Breaking News – LGBT Weekly http://lgbtweekly.com Tue, 03 May 2016 22:58:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 International human rights groups launch campaign to support the LGBTI community in Indonesia http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/03/international-human-rights-groups-launch-campaign-to-support-the-lgbti-community-in-indonesia/#respond Tue, 03 May 2016 21:54:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70217

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – International human rights groups launched a global campaign today to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community in Indonesia. Increasing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by political and religious leaders has caused growing hostility toward members of the LGBTI community in Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population.

The campaign will benefit the Indonesian human rights network Arus Pelangi, a national federation supporting LGBTI human rights in Indonesia. The organization has responded to the current backlash by launching an emergency assistance program to help the most vulnerable members of the community.  The program includes a temporary safe house for human rights defenders under threat, relocation assistance, a national hotline and other emergency support services.  But current funds for emergency services run out at the end of May.  Funds raised through this campaign will help ensure that the work continues.

The global campaign is led by Alturi, a new non-profit organization based in Los Angeles dedicated to raising attention and support for global LGBTI advocates, and is joined by Human Rights Watch and OutRIght Action International.

“Arus Pelangi has provided a critically important voice for the LGBTI community in Indonesia for more than 10 years,” said Steve Roth, co-founder and director of Alturi.  “And when this current backlash against LGBTI people began they quickly sprang into action.  But this emergency support puts a strain on their resources, so we’re asking Americans and other members of the international community to make a small contribution to help them continue this important work.”

Alturi, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International invite members of the international community to contribute to help ensure that Arus Pelangi can provide emergency services to LGBTI Indonesians most in need as result of the hostile, anti-LGBTI rhetoric from government officials.  Funds raised will also support Arus Pelangi’s broader work to ensure the well being of LGBTI Indonesians, including their “You Are Not Alone” awareness campaign and other critical advocacy work.

The campaign can be found at: http://www.alturi.org/indonesia_campaign

Yuli“When urgent needs like these arise, we have to act quickly to help and protect the most vulnerable members our community,” said Yuli Rusinawati, founder and chairperson of Arus Pelangi.  “At the same time, we have to keep advocating strongly for equality and respect for the broader LGBTI community in Indonesia.  We greatly appreciate the support from the international community, which will enable us to keep pushing forward with our work on multiple fronts.”

Established in 2006, Arus Pelangi is a non-profit, member-based federation that works to advance the human rights of LGBTI people in Indonesia through education, public awareness, advocacy and community organizing.

“OutRight partners with Arus Pelangi to change hearts and minds in Indonesia to support long-term change — but right now they need emergency support to keep their community safe and stand tall in the face of mounting opposition,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.

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GLAAD releases 4th Studio Responsibility Index http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/glaad-releases-4th-studio-responsibility-index/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/05/02/glaad-releases-4th-studio-responsibility-index/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 18:30:26 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70191

2016 SRI coverNEW YORK, NY – GLAAD today released its fourth annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), a report that maps the quantity, quality, and diversity of LGBT people in films released by the seven largest motion picture studios and their subsidiaries during the 2015 calendar year.

GLAAD found that of the 126 releases from major studios in 2015, only 22 of them (17.5%) included characters identified as LGBT. This marks no change from the 17.5% of films in 2014 with LGBT characters. More than three quarters of inclusive films (77%) featured gay male characters, less than a quarter (23%) included lesbian characters, and less than a tenth (9%) included bisexual characters. There was only one trans-inclusive film among all releases by major studios.

“Hollywood’s films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

GLAAD also found that racial diversity among LGBT characters in film dropped drastically year over year. In 2015, 25.5% of LGBT characters were people of color, compared to 32.1% in 2014. Of the LGBT characters counted in 2015, 34 (72.3%) were White, 5 were Latino/a (10.6%), 4 were Black/African American (8.5%), and 3 (6.4%) were Asian/Pacific Islander.

No studios received a rating of “Good” for their 2015 releases. 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Columbia Pictures, and Universal Pictures all received ratings of “Adequate”, while Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers all received a “Failing” grade for their portrayals of LGBT people. Beginning next year, GLAAD’s SRI will implement a new grading system to more accurately report on LGBT representation in Hollywood. Instead of a four grade system, GLAAD will implement a five star scale from one star (“Failing”) to five stars (“Excellent”).

GLAAD observations and recommendations:

  • The majority of LGBT characters in mainstream films remain minor – both in substance and screen time. Of the 22 LGBT-inclusive films, almost three quarters (73%) of them include less than ten minutes of screen time for LGBT characters. Not only must there be a larger number of LGBT roles, but they must be roles built with substance and purpose.
  • LGBT portrayals on film are overwhelming White (72.3%) and male (77%). Films must do better to include LGBT characters in roles directly tied to the plot which reflect the wide diversity of our community.
  • Transgender representation is shockingly low with only one character in the mainstream releases of 2015 – whose brief appearance served as a punchline to laugh at when her identity is revealed. Filmmakers should examine what message they are really sending when they rely on thoughtless humor to exploit an already marginalized community.
  • 2015 saw a notable resurgence of outright offensive depictions of LGBT people, relying on gay panic and defamatory stereotypes for cheap laughs. Humor can be a powerful tool for holding a mirror up to society and challenging the norm, but when crafted without thought, it has the opposite effect and bolsters ignorance and prejudice.

In 2012, GLAAD introduced the “Vito Russo Test”, a set of criteria analyzing how LGBT characters are represented in a fictional work, in the first SRI and continues to judge films by these simple guidelines. Named after GLAAD co-founder and celebrated film historian Vito Russo, and partly inspired by the “Bechdel Test,” these criteria represent a standard GLAAD would like to see a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films reach in the future.

The Vito Russo Test criteria:

  1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT).
  2. That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is comprised of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another).
  3. The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.

Only 8 of the 22 (36%) major studio films that featured an LGBT character passed the Vito Russo Test in 2015, the lowest percentage in this study’s history.

In 2015, GLAAD debuted a video titled “Hollywood Must Do Better” that highlighted a bevy of anti-LGBT moments in Hollywood films over the last five years. Additionally, GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, which forecasts the expected presence of LGBT characters for the upcoming television, will be issued later this year.

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House Armed Services Committee votes to strip away LGBT non-discrimination protections http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/28/house-armed-services-committee-votes-to-strip-away-lgbt-non-discrimination-protections/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:26:00 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70135

WASHINGTON – Today the House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment during the markup of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sponsored by anti-LGBT Representative Steve Russell (R-OK), the amendment would dismantle President Obama’s executive order prohibiting discrimination in federal contracting based on sexual orientation or gender identity, under the guise of religious liberty.

“Rep. Russell’s harmful amendment would strip away existing protections for LGBT workers by undermining President Obama’s executive order on LGBT non-discrimination protections in federal contracting,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “Evidently some House Republicans want to emulate their state legislative colleagues in undermining legal protections for LGBT Americans. House Republican Leadership must get this language out of the bill.”

The Russell amendment was approved by a vote of 33-29 early this morning. It would allow sweeping, taxpayer-funded discrimination in an attempt to promote anti-LGBT religious-based discrimination in the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. With far-reaching intended and unintended consequences, the vague amendment could even undermine existing nondiscrimination provisions that protect workers, and perhaps even beneficiaries, against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more.

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Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approves anti-transgender ordinance http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/27/oxford-ala-city-council-unanimously-approves-anti-transgender-ordinance/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:31:51 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=70015

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Today, the Oxford, Ala. City Council unanimously approved an anti-transgender ordinance that prevents transgender residents and visitors from using public restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity, and imposes a $500 fine or six months in jail on violators. This anti-transgender law is unprecedented in its establishment of criminal penalties for violations of the law, and raises a myriad of privacy and legal concerns, including questions about how the law will be enforced. There is no clarity on whether all people in Oxford will be expected to produce birth certificates when using public facilities or, if not, how law enforcement officials will obtain evidence.

“This ordinance is a shameful and vile attack on the rights and privacy of transgender people,” said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick. “Transgender people are our neighbors, our coworkers and our fellow churchgoers, and every Alabamian has the right to live their lives without fear of discrimination and prejudice. Throughout the country elected officials from both sides of the aisle, along with hundreds of business leaders and advocates throughout the country have resoundingly rejected these kinds of proposals, which only seek to demean and marginalize the transgender community.”

Despite claims to the contrary by anti-LGBT activists who have preyed on misinformation and ignorance, states with laws protecting transgender people’s access to the appropriate bathroom have seen no increase in public safety incidents. In fact, a coalition of more than 250 sexual assault prevention organizations released a statement last week decrying policies like the one passed in Oxford last night.

Oxford is now the first city in the nation to enact such a law attacking the transgender community, even as similar proposals have been rejected at the state level across the country. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed legislation that limited restroom use for transgender children in public schools earlier this year, and just last week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the legislation from consideration this legislative session.

With the passage of HB2, North Carolina became the first state to enact this type of legislation and is currently facing a federal court challenge and fierce backlash. Oxford’s ordinance is unprecedented in that it enumerates criminal penalties, including the potential for jail time, for violations. It also applies to bathrooms and locker rooms citywide, including in private businesses, which goes further than the similar provision in North Carolina’s law which applies to government buildings.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Alabama continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; and legal state recognition for their relationships and families. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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Hundreds of thousands call for repeal of North Carolina anti-LGBT law as legislature returns http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/25/hundreds-of-thousands-call-for-repeal-of-north-carolina-anti-lgbt-law-as-legislature-returns/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 19:19:48 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69993

RALEIGH, N.C. – Nearly 190,000 signatures demanding the repeal of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT House Bill 2 were delivered to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory today by a collection of civil rights, faith, business, and advocacy groups as the state legislature returns for the first time since it introduced and passed the law limiting legal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in a one-day special session on March 23. Thousands of people are expected to rally for the discriminatory law’s repeal outside the legislature throughout Monday.

Today’s petition delivery was coordinated by TurnOUT! NC, a joint project of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU of North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Equality North Carolina, whose goal is to mobilize and empower LGBT and pro-equality North Carolinians against HB 2.

“For more than a month, Governor McCrory, Senator Berger, and Speaker Moore have sat idly by as HB 2 has cost North Carolina millions, badly damaged their state’s reputation, and inflicted irreparable harm on the people they were elected to serve,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “The catastrophe these leaders have created and the damage they have caused can only begin to be reversed by repealing HB 2 in its entirety and replacing it with commonsense non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. To do anything less would be to continue their streak of gross negligence. The time for leadership is now.”

“It’s time the legislature get to work repairing the damage it has caused with the passage of HB 2,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, which is challenging the law in federal court along with the national ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of six LGBT North Carolinians. “HB 2 was a reckless attempt to malign and marginalize transgender people, and it is bringing immense harm to our state’s people, economy, and reputation. The General Assembly must work as expeditiously as possible to repeal this terrible law as it worked to pass it.”

“HB2 is a blatant, unconstitutional attack on the transgender community in North Carolina and we call for its immediate repeal. We must come together as a community to organize and support each other to make North Carolina safe for all of its citizens,” said Ivy Hill, LGBT Rights Toolkit Coordinator for the Campaign for Southern Equality.

“House Bill 2 is a deeply discriminatory bill that has put the most vulnerable people of our community at risk. This bill is a mess that Governor McCrory and NCGA leadership have made for us. In a special session – in just 12 hours – they passed a bill without ever meeting the people that are directly impacted by the law – transgender North Carolinians,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “Over the last month, Business leaders, entertainers, advocates and everyday North Carolinians have mobilized and called for the repeal of HB 2. Senator Berger, Speaker Moore, and Governor McCrory can no longer ignore the havoc the bill has wreaked on the state. The only way to restore North Carolina’s reputation is to repeal all of HB 2 and pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that protect all North Carolinians.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed HB 2, a host of high-profile Republicans, including Sen. Mark Kirk, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, have spoken out against HB 2 and similar bills.

More than 180 leading CEOs and business executives of major companies, including Apple, Bank of America, and Marriott International have called for HB 2’s repeal. The law has led Paypal to cancel a major expansion that would have brought more than 400 jobs to North Carolina, and Deutsche Bank to halt plans to add 250 jobs in the state. Major artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, and Pearl Jam, have cancelled performances in North Carolina as a result of HB 2, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the league will move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law is not repealed.

In the federal court challenge, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the ACLU of North Carolina argue that through HB 2, North Carolina sends a purposeful message that LGBT people are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the privacy, respect, and protections afforded others in the state. The complaint argues that HB 2 is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and invading the privacy of transgender people. The law also violates Title IX by discriminating against students and school employees on the basis of sex.

The Obama administration is presently considering whether HB 2 makes the state ineligible for billions of dollars in federal aid for schools, highways, and housing. North Carolina receives more than $4.5 billion in federal funding for secondary and post-secondary schools, all of which remains at jeopardy given the state’s policy of systemically violating Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including discrimination against transgender students. On April 19, the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over North Carolina ruled in a separate case that Title IX protects the rights of transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms, that are consistent with their gender identity.

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Jackson Public School Board unanimously adopts LGBT-inclusive employment policy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/22/jackson-public-school-board-unanimously-adopts-lgbt-inclusive-employment-policy/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 20:42:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69932

JACKSON, Miss. – Today the Jackson Public School Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend fully-inclusive sexual orientation and gender identity workplace protections to their employees. With almost 30,000 students, the Jackson Public School district is second largest in the state and one of the first in the Mississippi Public School system to grant employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff members.

“Every Mississippian, no matter who they are or whom they love, has the right to earn an honest living and provide for their families without fear of prejudice and discrimination in the workplace,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill. “As state lawmakers roll back the rights of LGBT Mississippians, we commend the Jackson Public School board members for doing what they can to safeguard these necessary protections for all their employees.”

Superintendent Dr. Cedrick Gray shared, “I am proud to announce the Board of Trustees for Jackson Public Schools has revised its policies to reflect that the District shall not discriminate against any individual because of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.”

The Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve the updated policy, which goes into effect immediately.

This week’s vote comes as the Mississippi State Legislature is facing fierce backlash for the passage of HB 1523 — a deeply discriminatory law that allows almost any individual or organization to use religion to justify discrimination against a host of Mississippians, including LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others. Major national and local businesses are calling for repeal, and performers like Bryan Adams, and most recently Tracy Morgan, have cancelled shows in the state, while actress Sharon Stone has cancelled a film shoot. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation, as did native Mississippian actress Sela Ward. Earlier this month, nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, also signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law.

On Sunday, May 1, HRC Mississippi will join local advocates in a rally calling on Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to listen to fair-minded Mississippians, and repeal H.B. 1523. The rally will culminate in a march from the Mississippi State Capitol to the Governor’s mansion.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. HRC Mississippi continues to work to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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Artist Prince is dead at 57 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/artist-prince-is-dead-at-57/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/21/artist-prince-is-dead-at-57/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 18:44:49 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69903
Prince

Prince

American singer, songwriter Prince has died; he was 57. He died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, today after suffering flu-like symptoms for several weeks.

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New report finds LGBT elected officials key to blocking anti-LGBT laws http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/new-report-finds-lgbt-elected-officials-key-to-blocking-anti-lgbt-laws/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/new-report-finds-lgbt-elected-officials-key-to-blocking-anti-lgbt-laws/#comments Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:57:03 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69884

VictoryWASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute (Victory) released a new research brief titled More Than Represent: LGBT Elected Officials Drive Equality in the States that shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a state has and its level of LGBT equality. There is clear evidence that openly LGBT people form relationships with their colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and change minds about LGBT equality – and votes.

The research overlays the number of openly serving LGBT elected officials in states with the Movement Advancement Project’s State Equality Index, and finds that:

  •       More openly LGBT public officials in a state leads to a greater number of LGBT legal protections.
  •       Nearly 70% of states with 5 or fewer openly LGBT public officials have few if any LGBT legal protections.
  •       About two-thirds of states with 11 or more openly LGBT public officials have complete or near complete        LGBT legal equality.
  •      100 percent of the states with no openly LGBT legislators have few if any LGBT legal protections.

“Our analysis shows convincingly that LGBT representation matters and is a game-changer on school boards, in city councils, and in state legislatures where our equality is still debated each and every day,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, President & CEO of Victory.

Recent anti-LGBT legislative activity in Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi demonstrates the power of having openly elected LGBT officials in state legislatures. There were no openly LGBT state legislators serving in North Carolina or Mississippi when the latest anti-LGBT bills were signed into law. Yet in Georgia, where there are 3 openly LGBT state legislators, the Governor ultimately refused to sign the anti-LGBT legislation into law.

“LGBT elected officials are on the front lines of anti-LGBT policy battles, advocating for equality on behalf of all of us. It is critical that we have more voices at decision-making tables, because it’s clear that when we’re not at the table we’re on the menu,” adds Moodie-Mills.

This research brief is the first from the Victory War Room, Victory’s new campaign and communications engine that will serve as a megaphone to promote the impact of LGBT public officials and discredit opponents of LGBT leadership who aim to thwart equality by spreading false and malicious information about LGBT candidates and political issues.  The Victory War Room is the “place for LGBT politics” and will replace the organization’s long-running Gay Politics Report.

 

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Federal court decision upholds civil rights protections for transgender students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/20/federal-court-decision-upholds-civil-rights-protections-for-transgender-students/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:36:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69875

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. Department of Education’s assertion that federal civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, the court affirmed the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 as protecting transgender students from discrimination, including allowing them to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The ruling came in the case of Gavin Grimm, a 16-year-old high school student and transgender teen, whose lawsuit against Virginia’s Gloucester County School District alleges the district violated Title IX by denying him use of  the boy’s restroom.

While today’s ruling guarantees  protections for transgender students in North Carolina, it does not address the other  discriminatory provisions contained in HB2. As a result, HRC continues to call for full repeal of the discriminatory HB2 law, which also prevents transgender youth and adults from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in all government-owned buildings, including in libraries, major airports, and convention centers. HB2 also eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future.  Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

“Today’s historic decision is not only a victory for Gavin, but for all transgender young people who are being targeted by discriminatory actions — including North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s anti-transgender HB2 law,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This ruling not only gives appropriate deference to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX as allowing transgender students to use school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, it also is binding on the state of North Carolina. We therefore expect public schools, including those in North Carolina, to immediately comply, ensuring transgender students full protections under the law, which includes full access to the appropriate facilities.”

The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

The ruling comes as a number of states — most recently South Carolina — have introduced legislation attacking transgender students by preventing their access to appropriate restroom and other facilities in schools. Last month, North Carolina became the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were being rejected across the country — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Just yesterday, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the discriminatory legislation from consideration this year, after outcry from tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans;major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; and major business leaders. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Slatery had also expressed concerns about the state losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

Today’s ruling by the Fourth Circuit affirms that school districts denying transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity are in direct violation of Title IX.  That’s true of the Virginia district that has been discriminating against Grimm, and it is true of any school that chooses to comply with HB2 in North Carolina, which is also in the Fourth Circuit.  HB2 subjects schools to massive liability, and it puts an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education at risk, as well as  other funds a school may receive from another federal source.

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This is how North Carolina’s HB2 impacts a 9th Grade transgender boy http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/18/this-is-how-north-carolinas-hb2-impacts-a-9th-grade-transgender-boy/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 17:24:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69829
Skye Thomson

Skye Thomson

A 9th Grade transgender North Carolina boy has written to the N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory about the discriminatory “bathroom bill” he signed into law a couple weeks ago.

The boy, Skye Thomson, writes earnestly about the way the law effects him explaining what it’s like to be a trans kid and again asking the governor to meet with him. Skye spoke at a state Senate hearing (At the 1:03:40 time mark in the video) meeting about the proposed law last month and talked about how he felt bullied by his state legislators. He requested a meeting with the governor before he signed HB2. The meeting was pulled an hour before the governor signed the bill. Read Skye’s letter below:

Dear Governor McCrory:

My name is Skye Thomson. I am 15 years old, I live in Eastern North Carolina, and I am a transgender boy. That means I was born a female and identify as a male.

I was in Raleigh for the debate on House Bill 2 on March 23. I was the only transgender student who got a chance to speak out against HB2, the so called “bathroom bill” that is supposed to keep everyone safe in bathrooms. But it doesn’t keep everyone safe, especially people like me. Imagine yourself in my shoes, being a boy walking into a ladies room. It’s awkward and embarrassing and can actually be dangerous. By putting this law in place you’re putting kids like me in danger.

I’ve dealt with bullying my whole life. And now I feel that my own state lawmakers and governor are bullying me as well. I face daily harassment for being myself, everything from dirty looks to physical assaults. I don’t report them because I know it will just make the other kids bully me more. In schools all over the place transgender kids go through the same thing every day. Because of the constant harassment, I have had more than one transgender friend attempt suicide.

HB2 just gives other students all the more reason to hate us.

After my speech at the HB2 hearing, two people from your staff invited me to a private meeting. They said that you wanted to learn more about the difficulties transgender kids like me face. At the end of our meeting, I asked your staff if I could meet with you in person before you made your decision about HB2. I hoped that if we met you would see that I’m just like any other kid, a kid worth protecting. I wanted to tell you my story, really bad things that have happened to me that I’m not comfortable sharing in this letter and that should never happen to a kid. Your staff said they would try to find a way for us to meet, but we never did. You signed HB2 into law an hour later.

Governor, I would still like to meet with you if at all possible. My friends would like to meet with you too. We think that if you get to know us, you will work on helping to keep us safe in bathrooms and everywhere else we go.

Thank you for your time,

Skye Thomson, 9th Grader

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Additional companies call for repeal of HB 2, despite NC Gov. McCrory’s executive order http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/15/additional-companies-call-for-repeal-of-hb-2-despite-nc-gov-mccrorys-executive-order/#respond Fri, 15 Apr 2016 17:33:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69792

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC announced that executives from the American Express Company, AXA Financial Inc., Bloomberg L.P. ,Capital One, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust, Campbell Soup Company, CohnReznick LLP, CrowdRise, eMaint Enterprises, LLC, Ernst & Young LLP, the Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., John Hancock Financial, Kohler Co., Logitech, Plum Organics, RBC Capital Markets, REI, Strava Inc., The Hartford, Time Warner Cable, United Airlines, Visa Inc. and Williams-Sonoma, Inc. have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 160 leading CEOs and business leaders urging Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the deeply discriminatory law that was rammed through the legislature on March 23rd. These companies are continuing their support after Governor McCrory announced an executive order that does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions signed into law through HB 2.

Yesterday, HRC released a new video (above) fact-checking Gov Mccrory’s dangerous rhetoric on HB 2.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the vile and discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And HB 2 still prevents individuals from bringing discrimination suit in state courts.

HRC is invoking the North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to any communications the Governor, the Executive Branch, or the General Assembly had among each other or with the kind of extreme anti-LGBT special interest groups who often craft and push this language. Specifically, the organizations are demanding that the government release any communications legislators or the Governor or his staff have had with the North Carolina Values Coalition or the Alliance Defending Freedom from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate leader Phil Berger and Speaker Tim Moore about HB 2. View the letters to the office of Gov. McCrory, Senator Berger and Speaker Moore here.

The copy of the updated letter, which was first made public on Tuesday, March 29th, can be found here and below.

“Governor McCrory’s executive order does nothing more than highlight the actual problems caused by HB 2,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “These businesses understand that discrimination is bad for North Carolina, and will continue to speak out until Governor McCrory and the General Assembly repeal this heinous attack on basic human dignity.”

“North Carolina’s place as a business leader in the South is based on fairness, inclusion, and diversity,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro with the original launch of the open letter. “HB 2 does not represent North Carolina values, and it weakens our competitive edge. We are glad to see our business community in the Old North State standing up against discriminatory measures like this. Governor McCrory made a mess of our state last [month], and our businesses are leading the charge to repair our state to a place of fairness.”

Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers are under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board called North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.” Major film studios and corporations, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, have stopped investments in the state because of the new law. Last week, Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro to stand in solidarity with LGBT people across North Carolina and the nation.

HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session last month, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights. Read more about how this bill puts federal funding at risk here.

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Mississippi: More than 60 major CEOs and business leaders demand repeal of H.B. 1523 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/14/mississippi-more-than-60-major-ceos-and-business-leaders-demand-repeal-of-h-b-1523/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:56:57 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69750

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign announced that more than 60 leading CEOS and business leaders, including executives from Bloomberg LP, CVS Health, Dropbox, Hilton Worldwide and Salesforce have signed onto an open letter calling on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and House Speaker Philip A. Gunn to repeal H.B. 1523. H.B. 1523, the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” allows almost any individual or organization to use religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school, and in their communities.

“It is unfathomable that in 2016, Mississippi has passed a law that explicitly allows LGBT people to be denied service or discriminated against simply because of who they are and whom they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.“That’s why across Mississippi and the nation, business leaders are speaking out against this discriminatory legislation that harms their employees, harms consumers, and harms their businesses. But there’s still time for Mississippi lawmakers to reverse course and do the right thing. We urge Governor Bryant and state lawmakers to lead their state to a better future, leaving the politics of discrimination and prejudice firmly in the past. It’s time for them to listen, stand up for all Mississippians, and work quickly to repeal H.B. 1523.”

Earlier this week, Mississippi State Rep. Jay Hughes and members of the Mississippi House of Representatives announced an effort to suspend regular House rules in order to introduce the “Mississippi Economic and Tourism Recovery Act” — a bill that would overturn H.B. 1523. Two-thirds of House members must vote in favor of suspending the rules to allow a vote on the proposed legislation to repeal H.B. 1523.

In addition to the major corporations signing onto this letter calling for repeal, some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota, have publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation — joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, and MassMutual. Gov. Bryant also ignored the call of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) to veto the discriminatory measure. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has joined an effort to get more CEOs to speak publicly against the law, and top executives from Microsoft and IBM have asserted that the law is bad for business.

Additionally, rocker Bryan Adams cancelled a concert scheduled for later this week in Biloxi, MS, and nearly 100 prominent writers from the state, including John Grisham and Kathryn Stockett, signed a letter protesting the discriminatory law. ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who is featured as the welcoming face of the Hospitality State’s official tourism guide, also decried the legislation saying, “hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome.” Actress Sharon Stone has also cancelled a film shoot in Mississippi because of the law, and the New York Mississippi Society cancelled their 37th Mississippi Picnic in Central Park.

Under this new law, religion could be used by almost any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples, and others. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

The full letter and list of signatories is below:

Dear Governor Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Reeves & Speaker Gunn:

We write with concerns about legislation signed this week, HB 1523, which would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, in their family life and more. Put simply, HB 1523 is not a bill that reflects the values of our companies.

We are disappointed to see the legislature and governor’s office pass discriminatory legislation. The business community, by and large, has consistently communicated to lawmakers at every level that such laws are bad for our employees and bad for business. This is not a direction in which states move when they are seeking to provide successful, thriving hubs for business and economic development. We believe that HB 1523 will make it far more challenging for businesses across the state to recruit and retain the nation’s best and brightest workers and attract the most talented students from across the country. It will also diminish the state’s draw as a destination for tourism, new businesses, and economic activity.

Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in Mississippi or anywhere in our country. As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you to repeal this bill.

Sincerely,
Laura Alber, President and Chief Executive Officer, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
Karen Appleton, Senior Vice President, Box
Brandee Barker, Cofounder and Partner, Pramana Collective
Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce
Chip Bergh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss and Co.
Michael Birch, Founder, The Battery
Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief HR Officer, CVS Health
Steven Boal, CEO, Quotient
Craig Bromley, President, John Hancock Financial
Wes Bush, Chairman, CEO and President of Northrop Grumman
Lloyd Carney, CEO, Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, Founder and CEO, Joyus
Amy Chang, CEO, Accompany
Alex Constantinople, CEO, The OutCast Agency
Bracken P. Darrell, CEO, Logitech
Chad Dickerson, CEO, Etsy
Alex Dimitrief, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, GE
Sandy Douglas, Executive Vice President and President, Coca-Cola North America, The Coca-Cola Company
Amy Erret, Founder and CEO, Madison-Reed
Jared Fliesler, General Partner, Matrix Partners
Jennifer Fonstad, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Aspect Ventures
Joe Gebbia, Cofounder and CPO, Airbnb
Jason Goldberg, Founder, Pepo
Peter T. Grauer, Chairman, Bloomberg L.P.
Julia Hartz, Cofounder and President, Eventbrite
David Hassell, CEO, 15Five
Robert Hohman, Founder and CEO, Glassdoor
Drew Houston, CEO, Dropbox
Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and Chair, Emerson Collective
Steve Joyce, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc.
David Karp, Founder and CEO, Tumblr
Travis Katz, CEO, Gogobot
Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
Sarah Leary, Cofounder, Nextdoor
Aileen Lee, Founder and Managing Partner, Cowboy Ventures
Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm, Inc.
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
Dion Lim, CEO, NextLesson
Andrew N. Liveris, CEO and Chairman of the Board, The Dow Chemical Company
Joe Lonsdale, General Partner, 8VC
Melody McCloskey, Founder, StyleSeat
Ryan McDonough, CFO, Accompany
Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, Founder and CEO, Intellectual Ventures
Christopher J. Nassetta, President & Chief Executive Officer, Hilton Worldwide
Lorrie Norrington, Operating Partner, Lead Edge Capital
Bob Page, Chairman and CEO, Replacements, Ltd.
Sunil Paul, Founding Partner, Spring Ventures
Michelle Peluso, CEO, Gilt
Walter Robb, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market
Dan Rosensweig, CEO, Chegg Inc.
Kevin Ryan, Founder and Chairman, AlleyCorp
Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association
Tom Sheahan, CEO, Red Oxygen
Ben Stevenson, Data Engineer, Accompany
Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO, Yelp
Christopher J. Swift, Chairman and CEO, The Hartford
Brian Tippens, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
David Tisch, Managing Partner, BoxGroup
Nirav Tolia, Cofounder and CEO, Nextdoor
Robb Webb, Chief Human Resources Officer, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
Tony West, EVP Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, PepsiCo
Anne Wojcicki, CEO, 23andMe
Robert Wolfe, CEO, CrowdRise
Emanuel Seth Yekutiel, CEO, ESY Strategies
John Zimmer, Cofounder and President, Lyft

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TurnOUT! North Carolina launches town hall series focused on repeal of anti-LGBT H.B. 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/turnout-north-carolina-launches-town-hall-series-focused-on-repeal-of-anti-lgbt-h-b-2/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:21:40 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69669

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, TurnOUT! North Carolina announced a series of town hall meetings across the Tar Heel State, focused on engaging and mobilizing pro-equality North Carolinians against House Bill 2 (H.B. 2) in the upcoming legislative session. A joint effort of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality NC TurnOUT! NC has been working to repeal the discriminatory legislation since it was signed by Gov. McCrory  March 23. The North Carolina General Assembly returns for its 2016 short session  April 25.

The first town hall will take place tomorrow, Thursday, April 14th at Le Meridien in Charlotte from 7 to 9pm. Speakers will include Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte City Councilmember Al Austin, HRC President Chad Griffin, Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro, and other local LGBT community members.

“Over the last several weeks, state legislative leaders have heard from a growing chorus of North Carolinians, civil rights advocates, business executives and faith leaders that H.B. 2 is dangerous to people and business across the state,” said HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse. “In Charlotte this Thursday and in cities across the state over the next two weeks, we must continue to stand up, speak out, and ensure the state legislature approaches the coming short session with an understanding of how urgently this discriminatory bill must be repealed.”

“While H.B. 2 was hatched to divide our state and distract from the real issues we face during this pivotal election year, the result has been the opposite: H.B. 2 has galvanized our allies, business voices, and faith communities to stand together against this and other anti-LGBT laws,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “We’re proud to lead this campaign against this craven attack on LGBT people, and further inspire even more fair-minded North Carolinians to turn up and turn out against this measure in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting $4.5 billion in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, including public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting at risk an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies. This section of H.B. 2 offers costly supposed “solutions” to non-existent problems, and forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — and doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.

As a result of North Carolina’s H.B. 2 law, which puts thousands of youth, citizens, employees, and visitors to the state at risk, more than 130 business leaders are calling for a repeal effort during the upcoming legislative session and a number of businesses have begun to remove investments from the state.

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Robert De Niro to be honored at 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/robert-de-niro-to-be-honored-at-27th-annual-glaad-media-awards-in-new-york/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/13/robert-de-niro-to-be-honored-at-27th-annual-glaad-media-awards-in-new-york/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 19:04:25 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69664
Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro

NEW YORK, N.Y. – GLAAD announced today it will honor Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York at the Waldorf Astoria New York May 14.

The 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for equality and acceptance.

 

De Niro will receive GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, which is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance. Previous Excellence in Media Award honorees include Kelly Ripa, Russell Simmons, Tyra Banks, Judy Shepard, Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Diane Sawyer, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Robert De Niro is a two-time Academy Award-winning actor and a longtime ally to the LGBT community. Most recently, he shared with audiences the story of his gay father in Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr., a 2014 HBO documentary directed by Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir. In it, De Niro movingly recounted his father’s struggle with self-acceptance, not living openly until the latter part of his life.

In addition to his outspoken advocacy in support of marriage equality, De Niro has brought LGBT storylines to broader audiences. In 2002, he co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival, which has made LGBT inclusion a hallmark of its annual film line-up. He produced and starred in the 1999 film Flawless, which told the story of a man and his friendship with a transgender woman. In 2007, De Niro portrayed an openly gay character in Stardust, which received a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release.

De Niro will next be seen in The Weinstein Company’s boxing film Hands of Stone, on August 26, 2016. He is currently filming The Comedian with director Taylor Hackford, and is in post-production for HBO’s Wizard of Lies, in which he is starring and is executive producer.

“Through his work honoring the memory of his openly gay father, Robert De Niro has not only sent a message of acceptance to LGBT people, but also educated audiences of the harms of anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “He is a tireless advocate who has helped bring to the world LGBT storylines that spark dialogue, build support, and encourage understanding.”

Additional special guests and honorees for the GLAAD Media Awards in New York will be announced.

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North Carolina Gov. signs executive order modifying HB2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/12/north-carolina-gov-signs-executive-order-modifying-hb2/#respond Tue, 12 Apr 2016 22:24:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69653
Pat McCrory

Pat McCrory

Following a huge backlash against the anti-LGBT House Bill 2 North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory today signed an executive order modifying the bill, albeit somewhat modestly.

McCrory’s action affirms that private businesses, nonprofits, and local governments can establish their own employment nondiscrimination policies — for their own workers. And it expands the state’s employment nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity — that is, for state employees, reports The Advocate.

While the governor’s executive order extends protections to state workers, it does nothing to fix the discriminatory provisions he signed into law through HB 2. Under HB 2, transgender people are prohibited from using restrooms consistent with their gender identity in public buildings, including the University of North Carolina campus and the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Cities still cannot adopt ordinances designed to prohibit discrimination against their residents and visitors. And, today’s action does not undo the damage to the state nondiscrimination laws, which now prevent individuals from bringing suit in state courts.

LGBTQ advocates were quick to criticize McCrory’s actions  saying his actions just did not go far enough.

“Gov. McCrory’s executive order today is too little too late. It is like trying to solve a massive life threatening injury with a small band-aid that doesn’t come close to covering the wound. Complete repeal of HB2 and the passage of comprehensive statewide non-discrimination legislation are the only actions that will provide real, strong protections for all the LGBTQ people of North Carolina.” said Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “The governor’s action is an insufficient response to a terrible, misguided law that continues to harm LGBT people on a daily basis. It’s absurd that he’ll protect people from being fired but will prohibit them from using the employee restroom consistent with their gender identity. The North Carolina Legislature must act to right this wrong as swiftly as possible. They created this horrendous law, and they need to repeal it.”

Equality North Carolina and the HRC continue to call on the governor and North Carolina’s elected officials to repeal HB 2.

“While Gov. McCrory’s Executive Order creates vital protections in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, it does not address the deep concerns we share with members of the business community and citizens across the state about the damaging impact of HB 2,” said Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro. “In fact, the order doubles down on the Governor’s support for some of the most problematic provisions of HB 2.”

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Pope Francis relaxes rules on divorce but will not support gay marriage http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/08/pope-francis-relaxes-rules-on-divorce-but-will-not-support-gay-marriage/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/08/pope-francis-relaxes-rules-on-divorce-but-will-not-support-gay-marriage/#respond Fri, 08 Apr 2016 17:42:42 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69587
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis on Friday called for a Church that was less strict and more compassionate towards “imperfect” Catholics, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”, reported Reuters.

However the Pope also reaffirmed that the church would not support gay marriage. Francis said gays should be respected but firmly re-stated the Church’s position that there are “absolutely no grounds” to equate gay unions to heterosexual marriage.

Responding to Pope Francis’ pronouncement, Mary Beth Maxwell, senior vice president for Programs, Research and Training at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released the following statement:

“We had hoped that Pope Francis’ more open and loving message about LGBT people would translate into fuller inclusion during the Church’s Year of Mercy, and we are disappointed today. The good news is, we know that a strong majority of U.S. Catholics believe in equality for LGBT people and that in a growing number of Catholic families and parishes all across this country we are welcomed for who we are, not judged or excluded because of doctrine. We will continue working, along with so many committed people of faith, toward full inclusion and participation in our beloved Church, and we look to the day when Pope Francis’ call for a loving and welcoming Church includes the LGBT faithful and our families.”

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PA Gov. Wolf expands non-discrimination protections for state workers, contractors http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pa-gov-wolf-expands-non-discrimination-protections-for-state-workers-contractors/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pa-gov-wolf-expands-non-discrimination-protections-for-state-workers-contractors/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 20:51:29 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69572

Wolf--HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf today signed two executive orders that expand protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression or identity for state employees and, for the first time, employees of contractors doing business with the commonwealth. Governor Wolf’s executive orders come as the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would apply these protections to all Pennsylvania workers, remains stalled in the General Assembly.

“With no sign that Republican leaders plan to free this bill that has broad, bi-partisan support, I am taking action to protect those that I can and send a signal to the country that Pennsylvania is open for business no matter who you are or whom you love,” Governor Wolf said. “What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now.

“We must show that Pennsylvania is the place that William Penn envisioned when he founded our commonwealth on the principle that it is open, diverse, and inclusive for all people. I call on the General Assembly to swiftly put legislation on my desk that ensures that people throughout the commonwealth – regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity – are treated equally under Pennsylvania law.”

The purpose of these executive orders is to establish policy, procedures and responsibilities for the prohibition of discrimination and affirmation of equal employment opportunity in the commonwealth. Agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction, employees and applicants for employment in those agencies, and vendors are affected by these Executive Orders.

Business owners and advocates joined Governor Wolf in calling for the legislature to finally pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act.

“As a Philadelphia-based LGBT Business Enterprise with nearly $2 million in annual revenue and 20 employees, it is vital for us to be able to attract and retain talented and diverse team members,” said Marc Coleman, President of the Tactile Group in Philadelphia. “Today’s announcement is especially timely as legislators in both North Carolina and Mississippi attempt to roll back the equality clock with their latest batch of discriminatory laws. It’s encouraging to live in a state whose leadership is empathetic to the challenges of the LGBT business community, sees the value of diversity, and understands the need for inclusion.”

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce applauded Gov. Wolf  in signing these executive orders, “We applaud Gov. Wolf for these proactive orders that will have dramatic economic impact on his state. He clearly agrees with NGLCC that an economy only succeeds when its workforce and supply chains are fully inclusive, free from fear and discrimination,” said NGLCC President and Co-Founder Justin Nelson. “To prohibit discrimination against LGBT business owners in contracting is a bold step, and the next logical step is the intentional inclusion of certified LGBT Business Enterprises (LGBTBEs) in all statewide contracting and procurement opportunities alongside women, minority, disability and veteran owned businesses. We stand ready to work in partnership with Gov. Wolf’s administration to implement such an initiative as we have with California, Massachusetts, corporations, and federal agencies.”

NGLCC Co-Founder and CEO Chance Mitchell added, “While other states are irreparably damaging their economic prospects and their public opinion through discriminatory ‘religious freedom’ laws, Pennsylvania is setting a precedent that the American Dream should be accessible to all Americans. As we have seen everywhere pro-LGBT inclusive policies are enacted, we can expect a major increase in job-creating, economy-innovating LGBT businesses to thrive throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The first executive order the governor signed today says that no agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability. Executive Order 2003-10 will be rescinded and replaced by this executive order.

Each agency under the Governor’s jurisdiction will ensure fair and equal employment opportunities exist at every level of government.

The second executive order will ensure that all contracting processes of commonwealth agencies will be nondiscriminatory and that all businesses contracting with the commonwealth as well as all grantees should use nondiscriminatory practices in subcontracting, hiring, promoting, and other labor matters. Executive Order 2006-02 will be rescinded and replaced by the executive order.

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Pennsylvania governor to sign LGBT non-discrimination executive orders http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pennsylvania-governor-to-sign-lgbt-non-discrimination-executive-orders/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/07/pennsylvania-governor-to-sign-lgbt-non-discrimination-executive-orders/#respond Thu, 07 Apr 2016 19:01:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69559
Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has announced that he will sign executive orders stating “no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas.”  According to the governor’s office, one of the executive orders will pertain to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process. Pennsylvania already has an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The governors statement in full read,

“Governor Wolf tomorrow will sign two executive orders – one pertaining to commonwealth employees and the other to the commonwealth grants and procurement process – that each say no agency under the governor’s jurisdiction shall discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, and identity, among other areas. This is an important step in ensuring equality, but Pennsylvania must do more and the governor will also call on the legislature to finally pass non-discrimination legislation. What happened in North Carolina, and what is going on in other states, should be a call to pass non-discrimination legislation in Pennsylvania now. The governor wants to make clear that Pennsylvania is inclusive, welcoming, and open for business for everyone.”

“All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to live, work, and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “While the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi have signed into law deplorable legislation targeting LGBT people, Governor Wolf is standing up and sending a completely different message – one that tells the world Pennsylvania is a welcoming state that values diversity and human dignity. These executive actions are welcome news, but as Governor Wolf has said, there’s more work to be done. It’s far past time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass the Pennsylvania Fairness Act so that all Pennsylvanians, no matter who they are or whom they love, can live their lives without fear of discrimination.”

The bipartisan Pennsylvania Fairness Act was introduced last August in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in order to update the state’s non-discrimination law to explicitly include protections for LGBT people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in public places. Both chambers have so far failed to show the leadership needed to take action on the critically important legislation.

According to a recent survey, 95% of Pennsylvanians believe that everyone needs to be able to earn a living – including LGBT people – and that employees should be hired, fired or promoted based on their qualifications, experience and the jobs they do – nothing more, nothing less.  An incredible 78% of Pennsylvanians support updating the state’s non-discrimination law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pennsylvania’s economy is the sixth largest in the country with nearly 6 million Pennsylvanians going to work every day to support themselves and their families. A statewide, uniform non-discrimination law protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would provide certainty and clarity to Pennsylvania employers and employees.  34 Pennsylvania municipalities have passed separate ordinances to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Erie, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia.

 

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Scripps recognized for health care equality for LGBT patients http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/06/scripps-recognized-for-health-care-equality-for-lgbt-patients/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/06/scripps-recognized-for-health-care-equality-for-lgbt-patients/#respond Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:16:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69507

scripps_healthSAN DIEGO – Scripps Health’s five hospital campuses have each been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in the Healthcare Equality Index 2016, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization. The survey is used to evaluate inclusive policies and practices related to LGBT patients, visitors and employees.

For the fifth consecutive year, Scripps hospitals earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate the health system’s commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing adequate health care and respect they deserve.

“At Scripps, we believe in treating every individual with dignity and respect,” James LaBelle, M.D., Scripps Chief Medical Officer. “This distinction by the HRC Foundation further demonstrates our commitment to delivering quality, compassionate care to our diverse patient population, Dr. LaBelle said.

Scripps hospitals were among a select group of health care facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

“Despite all the progress we’ve made, far too many LGBT people still lack inclusive and affirming health care. Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality are helping to change that, and, in the process, making the lives of LGBT patients and their families better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president. “LGBT people have a right to be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates Scripps Health for its work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.

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Mississippi governor signs law attacking LGBT people and families http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/05/mississippi-governor-signs-law-attacking-lgbt-people-and-families/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/05/mississippi-governor-signs-law-attacking-lgbt-people-and-families/#respond Tue, 05 Apr 2016 21:55:16 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69490

JACKSON, Miss. – Today, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law H.B. 1523, “The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act.” National corporations and businesses have spoken out against the horrific measure, that would allow individuals, religious organizations and private associations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at schools, and in their communities. Following Kansas and North Carolina, Mississippi becomes the third state this legislative session to sign into law an explicitly anti-LGBT bill.

Some of the state’s largest employers, including Nissan Group of North America, Tyson Food Inc, MGM Resorts International, and Toyota publicly voiced their opposition to the appalling legislation, joining national corporations such as AT&T, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co, MassMutual, General Electric, and Hyatt Hotel Corporations. In a statement yesterday, Jay C. Moon, President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association (MMA) called for Governor Bryant to veto the measure saying: “It is clear that many of our members find that HB 1523 would violate their corporate policies expressly providing for an inclusive workplace environment that supports diversity. This is not a bill that the MMA supports and we hope that it will not find its way into law.”And last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi released a strongly worded statement condemning the bill as well.

“Gov Phil Bryant adds his name to a list of disgraced Southern governors by signing this hateful and discriminatory bill into law,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Governor Bryant refused to meet with LGBT people and even turned us away at the door of his office. He refused to listen to business leaders. He refused to listen to Mississippians. And now his state will suffer because of his ignorance and failure of leadership. Just as we’re doing elsewhere, we will continue to rally fair-minded voters, businesses, and civil rights advocates to repeal.”

At a rally yesterday evening outside the governor’s mansion, HRC President Chad Griffin joined HRC Mississippi, the ACLU of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Gulf Coast Equality and hundreds of advocates from across Mississippi urging Governor Bryant to veto HB 1523. Earlier, HRC requested that the governor meet with LGBT Mississippians, but that call has gone unanswered — and advocates were turned away from his office. Speaker Philip Gunn also refused an HRC request that he meet with the LGBT community before yesterday’s final vote on the discriminatory bill.

Under this new law, religion could be used by most any individual or organization to justify discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, unwed couples and others.  Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child to the dangerous practice of “conversion therapy,” and subject a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension. It would even allow individuals to refuse to carry out the terms of a state contract for the provision of counseling services to all eligible individuals, including veterans, based on the counselor’s beliefs about LGBT people or single mothers.

Furthermore, schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.

Mississippi’s HB 1523 is the third stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed in law in 2016. The attack on fairness and equality are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country, including nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 34 states. As of today, at least half of these bills have been beaten back around the country.

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New federal housing policy aims to eliminate discrimination against LGBTQ people with a criminal record http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/new-federal-housing-policy-aims-to-eliminate-discrimination-against-lgbtq-people-with-a-criminal-record/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/new-federal-housing-policy-aims-to-eliminate-discrimination-against-lgbtq-people-with-a-criminal-record/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 19:20:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69467
hudWASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a new federal policy that aims to eliminate housing discrimination against people with a criminal history, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people with a criminal record. The new policy clarifies that using criminal history to justify a negative housing decision, such as the refusal to rent to or renew a lease for someone, or the refusal to sell to or to give someone a mortgage on a new home, may violate the Fair Housing Act (1968).
“HUD just made it significantly easier for people with criminal records to secure housing. Nearly a third of the adult U.S. population has a criminal record, including millions of LGBTQ people, who we know are disproportionately likely to be involved with the criminal legal system,” said Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director, National LGBTQ Task Force. “A lack of stable housing exacerbates challenges for people who may also struggle with getting jobs, physical and mental healthcare, and other supports based on their criminal record. We look forward to seeing how providers change their standards to comply with this clarifying guidance.”

The new guidance from HUD explains how current housing decisions may violate federal housing and civil rights laws. First, if a housing provider intentionally discriminates by treating people who have criminal records differently based on race or ethnicity, they are violating the Fair Housing Act. Second, restrictions based on criminal history may burden members of one race or ethnicity more than another, leading to liability under a “discriminatory effects” theory. The new federal guidance is not binding but it does put providers on notice that continuing to screen applicants for criminal history may subject them to legal liability.

Black and Latino people stand to benefit from the new policy as both groups are policed and incarcerated at greater rates than white people. For example, one in three Black men is incarcerated at some point in their life, as are one in six Latino men. In comparison, only one in seventeen white men is incarcerated in their lifetime. In part, this is a result of disparities in enforcement of our nation’s drug laws. Though white and black people have similar rates of drug use, black people are ten times more likely to be sent to jail or prison on drug offenses.
The National LGBTQ Task Force has been pushing HUD to eliminate barriers to housing opportunities for LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ people who have a criminal record. In addition to meeting with the federal housing regulators, the National LGBTQ Task Force joined the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Shriver Center calling for equal housing opportunities for all.
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Jason Collins: North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law ‘casts dark shadow over tonight’s NCAA Championship game’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/jason-collins-north-carolinas-anti-lgbt-law-casts-dark-shadow-over-tonights-ncaa-championship-game/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/04/04/jason-collins-north-carolinas-anti-lgbt-law-casts-dark-shadow-over-tonights-ncaa-championship-game/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 19:13:28 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69463
Jason Collins

Jason Collins

As the University of North Carolina (UNC) men’s basketball team heads to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship game tonight, its hard work and success are being overshadowed by the reckless actions of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and state lawmakers. Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay, has spoken out saying the anti-LGBT law casts a dark shadow over tonight’s NCAA Championship game.

“On what should be a tremendously exciting night for North Carolina and its legions of fervent college basketball fans, the discriminatory actions of the state’s legislature and governor are casting a deep shadow over the Tar Heel state,” said Collins. “I join other champions of equality in calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the state’s elected leaders to repeal its grossly anti-LGBT law — not only, and most importantly, to protect its own citizens, but also to assure the NCAA that North Carolina is welcoming to all and deserves to retain its historic role as a leading host of league events.”

With his signature on the deeply discriminatory law that was passed through the legislature  March 23, Gov. McCrory has placed North Carolina not only at risk of losing an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, but also at risk of being denied the ability to host future NCAA and NBA events in the state. The new law eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people, and forces transgender students in public schools and universities, as well as many transgender people in publicly-owned buildings, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

Over the past week, Gov. McCrory and state lawmakers have been coming under increasingly intense pressure to repeal the discriminatory law in the upcoming legislative session later this month. More than 120 major CEOs and business leaders from across the country are calling on state leaders to repeal the radical new law, and the outcry continues to grow. Mayors and governors across the country are banning travel to the state, and the New York Times editorial board calls North Carolina a “pioneer in bigotry.”  Google Ventures is just one of many businesses that have stopped investments in the state until the anti-LGBT law is repealed.

Tonight’s championship game is being played in a city that the NCAA has said is also at risk of losing future NCAA events because of November’s shameful referendum that repealed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) – a critical measure that provided non-discrimination protections for LGBT and other minority Houstonians and visitors. The campaign to repeal HERO at the ballot was fueled by lies, scare tactics, and fear-mongering about transgender people – the same tactics used by anti-equality activists in North Carolina to pass House Bill 2. While it was horrible that HERO’s critical non-discrimination protections were never allowed to go into effect, HB 2 is worse because it targets LGBT, and particularly transgender people, and writes discrimination against them into law.

North Carolina’s HB 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. The legislation also forces transgender students in public schools to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity, putting 4.5 billion dollars in federal funding under Title IX at risk. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in state buildings, including in public universities.  Lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session on March 23rd, and Gov. McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were rejected across the country this year — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. North Carolina school districts that comply with the law will now be in direct violation of Title IX, subjecting the school districts to massive liability and putting an estimated $4.5 billion of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as funding received by schools from other federal agencies, at risk. This section of HB 2 offers costly supposed solutions to non-existent problems, and it forces schools to choose between complying with federal law — plus doing the right thing for their students — or complying with a state law that violates students’ civil rights.

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Virginia governor vetoes anti-LGBT bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/virginia-governor-vetoes-anti-lgbt-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/virginia-governor-vetoes-anti-lgbt-bill/#respond Wed, 30 Mar 2016 22:42:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69317

Today, Virgina Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed an anti-LGBT bill  that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on their religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Advocate reported that the bill would have prevented the state from penalizing businesses and individuals who cite faith-based grounds for discriminating against same-sex couples, transgender people, and people who have sex outside of marriage.

The Washington Blade reported that McAuliffe said in a statement that Senate Bill 41 is “nothing more than an attempt to stigmatize.”

“This legislation is also bad for business and creates roadblocks as we try to build the new Virginia economy,” he said. “Businesses and job creators do not want to locate or do business in states that appear more concerned with demonizing people than with creating a strong business climate.”

“Legislation that immunizes the discriminatory actions of certain people and institutions at the expense of same-sex couples would damage Virginia’s reputation for commonsense, pro-business government,” added McAuliffe. “We need only look at the damage these types of laws are doing in other states to understand the harm this bill could bring to our Commonwealth and its economy.”

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Bank of America, American Airlines, Cisco, Miramax and Uber join list demanding repeal of N.C. HB 2 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/bank-of-america-american-airlines-cisco-miramax-and-uber-join-list-demanding-repeal-of-n-c-hb-2/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/30/bank-of-america-american-airlines-cisco-miramax-and-uber-join-list-demanding-repeal-of-n-c-hb-2/#respond Wed, 30 Mar 2016 20:12:36 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69296

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC),and Equality NC, have announced that executives from Bank of America, American Airlines, Cisco, Miramax, Uber, Google Ventures, and Braeburn Pharmaceuticals have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 90 leading CEOs and business leaders calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal the radical provisions in the  discriminatory House Bill 2 that was passed by the legislature last week.

The letter — signed by dozens of CEOs from across the nation — was made public yesterday afternoon, and came only a day after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced he would veto anti-LGBT legislation in Georgia after facing a sustained outcry from a broad chorus of advocates and companies. On Thursday morning, HRC President Chad Griffin and Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro will deliver the letter personally to Gov. McCrory’s office. Griffin and Sgro have also requested a meeting with the governor on Thursday in order to discuss the very real impact this new law will have on LGBT North Carolinians. A copy of the letter and its signatories can be found here.

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N.C. attorney general will not defend anti-LGBT law http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/29/n-c-attorney-general-will-not-defend-anti-lgbt-law/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/29/n-c-attorney-general-will-not-defend-anti-lgbt-law/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 17:35:52 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69282
Roy Cooper

Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. – In a press conference Tuesday, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has said his office will not defend HB2, the law adopted last week that strikes down locally enacted protections for LGBT people, saying that the bill is unconstitutional.

The News Observer reported that Cooper called the measure “a national embarrassment” that “will set North Carolina’s economy back if we don’t repeal it.”

Since Gov. McCrory signed the bill into law there has been a wave of opposition from leading corporations, including from Dow, Biogen, PayPal, RedHat, the NCAA, American Airlines, Salesforce, IBM, Apple, the NBA, Google, Microsoft, Marriott, Bayer, and others. Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a ban on all non-essential travel to North Carolina by state officials in protest at the bill.

Four organizations challenging the bill in federal court – The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of North Carolina, Equality NC and Lambda Legal – released a joint statement praising Cooper’s decision: “North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, the state’s top law enforcement official, has concluded House Bill 2 is unconstitutional and harms North Carolinians without justification,” the statement said. “As our lawsuit highlighted yesterday, House Bill 2 singles out the LGBT community for discrimination. That’s not only incompatible with the state’s constitutional and legal obligations but also our shared values as North Carolinians.”

Gov. McCrory’s new law eliminates existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and some veterans; prevents such provisions from being passed by cities in the future; and forces transgender students in public schools, as well as adults in state buildings, including public universities, to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

“Attorney General Cooper has made the right call for a very simple reason. He has a responsibility to protect and defend the United States Constitution and this bill, signed into law under the cover of darkness by Gov. McCrory, is blatantly unconstitutional under existing precedent,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Gov. McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly need to immediately repeal the discriminatory provisions of this bill.”

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Georgia governor will veto anti-LGBT bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/28/georgia-governor-will-veto-anti-lgbt-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/28/georgia-governor-will-veto-anti-lgbt-bill/#respond Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:20:46 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69257
Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced this morning he will veto H.B. 757, a “religious liberty” bill that passed the state legislature. The legislation, which sparked a massive backlash of opposition from a broad array of civil rights groups and leaders in Hollywood and corporate America, would have weakened local non-discrimination protections, allowed businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people, and explicitly empowered discrimination by taxpayer-funded religious organizations.

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Deal, a Republican, said he didn’t think the bill was necessary.

“In light of our history, I find it ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask government to confer upon them certain rights and protections. If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should need the “hands-off” admonition of the First Amendment to our Constitution. When legislative bodies attempt to do otherwise, the inclusions and omissions in their statutes can lead to discrimination, even though it may be unintentional. That is too great a risk to take,” he said.

Deal’s veto comes one week after HRC President Chad Griffin called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Deal refused to veto the legislation at HRC’s Los Angeles Gala. Soon after, many of the biggest entertainment companies in the world responded to the call — including 21st Century Fox, AMC Networks, CBS Corp., Comcast NBCUniversal, Lionsgate, Live Nation, MGM, Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz, The Walt Disney Co., Time Warner, The Weinstein Company and Viacom. And more than thirty  leading actors, directors, producers, musicians, and agents signed HRC’s letter demanding that he veto the proposal.

Responding to those calls Deal said, “I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will made sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do.”

In response to the governor’s announcement HRC President Chad Griffin said, “Our message to Gov. Nathan Deal was loud and clear: this deplorable legislation was bad for his constituents, bad for business, and bad for Georgia’s future. Today, Gov. Deal heard the voices of Georgians, civil rights organizations, as well as the many leaders in the entertainment industry and private sector who condemned this attack on the fundamental rights of LGBT people, and he has set an example for other elected officials to follow. Discrimination and intolerance have no place in the United States of America, and we hope North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly are paying close attention to what has transpired in Georgia. They must undo their disgraceful attack on LGBT people in the state’s upcoming legislative session.”

Deal ended his speech with a characterization of Georgia as, ” a welcoming state filled with warm, friendly and loving people.  Our cities and countryside are populated with people who worship God in a myriad of ways and in very diverse settings. Our people work side-by-side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way. For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”

Georgia is among a majority of states that lack explicit LGBT non-discrimination protections. Nonpartisan polling from Public Religion Research Institute released this year found that a majority of Georgians oppose allowing businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people — only 37 percent support such a bill and 57 percent oppose. Georgians also reported that they support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and access to public services by an overwhelming 66-28 margin.

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Entertainment industry leaders call on Georgia governor to veto HB 757 http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/24/entertainment-industry-leaders-call-on-georgia-governor-to-veto-hb-757/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/24/entertainment-industry-leaders-call-on-georgia-governor-to-veto-hb-757/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 16:25:49 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69180
Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sent a letter to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on behalf of dozens of entertainment industry leaders who will abandon production in the state if he signs the anti-LGBT H.B. 757 into law. The letter follows a call to action from HRC President Chad Griffin, who delivered a speech in Los Angeles last Saturday urging Hollywood executives to stand up to Gov. Deal and speak out against the dangerous and discriminatory legislation that could become law. H.B. 757 could weaken local non-discrimination protections and allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBT people, in addition to explicitly allowing discrimination by taxpayer-funded religious organizations. Later today, additional studios and entertainment leaders are expected to announce they will abandon operations in Georgia if H.B. 757 is enacted.

“We applaud the dozens of leaders from the entertainment industry who are taking a stand today against discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The entertainment industry has a huge economic footprint in Georgia, and the choice for Governor Deal could not be any clearer: he must veto this outrageous legislation before it inflicts tremendous damage on the state. This outrageous and discriminatory legislation is an affront to the values we all share.”

This past Saturday night at the Los Angeles HRC Gala, HRC President Chad Griffin addressed nearly 1,000 supporters and leaders in the entertainment industry and called on Hollywood to stop productions in Georgia if Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t veto the new Indiana-style “license to discriminate” bill passed by the state legislature last week. According to the State of Georgia, which offers major tax incentives for entertainment companies to film in the state, at least 248 film and television productions were shot in Georgia during the state’s 2015 fiscal year. This resulted in at least $1.7 billion in direct spending as well as more than 100 new businesses relocating to or expanding in Georgia to support these activities.

In addition to this letter from the entertainment industry, sports teams, major corporations, and countless businesses have spoken out against the Georgia bill, including: Apple, the Atlanta Braves, the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, Dell, the Dow Chemical Company, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Hilton, Intel, Intercontinental Hotels, Live Nation Entertainment, Marriott, MailChimp, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Microsoft, the NFL, Paypal, Salesforce, Square, Turner, Twitter, Unilever, Virgin, Yelp, and many others.

HRC and Georgia Unites have also delivered more than 75,000 email petitions to Gov. Deal urging him to veto the measure which could undermine local non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people, permit hospitals to refuse to provide medically necessary care, or even allow a taxpayer-funded service provider to discriminate by denying a job because of the applicant’s religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The full letter to Governor Deal and signatures follow:

“Dear Governor Deal,

As leaders in the entertainment industry, we have deep concerns about H.B. 757, which would sanction discrimination against LGBT people and others in Georgia.

As you know, Atlanta is often referred to as the Hollywood of the South. During the last fiscal year, at least 248 films and television productions were shot in Georgia, adding at least $1.7 billion in direct spending to the state’s economy. Additionally, the entertainment industry helped to bring more than 100 businesses to Georgia through relocation or expansion in the past fiscal year. Only two states — California and New York — have a larger entertainment industry footprint and both have statewide non-discrimination protections on the books. Unfortunately, Georgia not only lacks such protections, but could soon move from a bad situation to worse with H.B. 757.

We pride ourselves on running inclusive companies, and while we have enjoyed a positive partnership on productions in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere if any legislation sanctioning discrimination is signed into state law.

We urge you to veto H.B. 757 and send a strong message that Georgia will not tolerate discrimination against citizens, employees and visitors to the state.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this urgent issue.”

Ali Adler, Writer and Producer
Greg Berlanti, Writer and Producer
Matt Bomer, Actor & Simon Halls, Publicist
Dustin Lance Black, Screenwriter and Filmmaker
Bradley Bredeweg, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Kristin Chenoweth, Actress and Singer
Diablo Cody, Writer, Producer and Director
Bruce Cohen, Producer
Lee Daniels, Producer and Director
Dana Fox, Writer and Producer
John Goldwyn, Producer
James Gunn, Writer and Director
Anne Hathaway, Actress
Alan Hergott, Entertainment Attorney
Nina Jacobson, Producer
Dan Jinks, Producer
Kathy Kennedy, Producer
Zoe Kravitz, Actress
Bryan Lourd, Talent Agent
Seth MacFarlane, Producer and Filmmaker
Laurence Mark, Producer
Frank Marshall, Producer and Director
Neil Meron, Producer
Julianne Moore, Actress
Ryan Murphy, Producer
Peter Paige, Executive Producer and Showrunner
Rob Reiner, Actor, Director and Producer
Sarah Schechter, Producer
Adam Shankman, Director and Producer
Aaron Sorkin, Screenwriter and Producer
Marisa Tomei, Actress
Gus Van Sant, Producer and Director
Harvey Weinstein, Producer and Film Studio Executive
Craig Zadan, Producer and Director

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Tennessee Senate Committee advances anti-transgender legislation http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/tennessee-senate-committee-advances-anti-transgender-legislation/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/tennessee-senate-committee-advances-anti-transgender-legislation/#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2016 23:17:14 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69173

Today, by a vote of 7 to 2 the Tennessee Senate Education Committee advanced SB 2387  – a bill that targets transgender students in public schools and universities. The measure seeks to force transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity. The vote to advance the Senate bill comes as the House companion bill, HB 2414, was put on hold for a summer study just yesterday.

Fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; the Tennessee Equality Project; and the Human Rights Campaign have beenpleading with lawmakers to abandon the discriminatory proposal. Earlier this month, South Dakota’s Republican Governor vetoed a similar bill that would have further compounded the marginalization transgender students already face.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has echoed concerns that the discriminatory, unconstitutional measure would compromise the state’s three billion dollars in federal funding for its schools and universities. His spokesperson also said the governor “trusts our teachers and local school boards to make necessary accommodations” for transgender students.

“This vicious legislation is an assault on more than 10,000 transgender students in Tennessee,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Being pushed by anti-equality extremists from outside the state, this measure would needlessly jeopardize millions in federal funding for Tennessee’s schools and universities. Local administrators and teachers should never be forced by a state mandate to discriminate against students who already face high rates of harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The Tennessee Senate must resoundingly reject this outrageous measure.”

Seven major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have condemned this type of discriminatory legislation – including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association. Expressing strong opposition, the organizations made clear that the proposal “would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect.”

SB 2387 and it’s companion bill, HB 2414, would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them to choose between state and federal law. In April of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance informing public schools that Title IX protects students against discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”

According to the Williams Institute, there are over 10,000 transgender youth in Tennessee between the ages of 13 and 19.

The proposal ties the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents.

In vetoing similar legislation that targeted transgender children in South Dakota, Gov. Daugaard said,

“Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity. This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on ‘every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.’  It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.  If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them.  Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.  Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation.”

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Kansas governor signs attack on LGBT college students into law http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/kansas-governor-signs-attack-on-lgbt-college-students-into-law/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/23/kansas-governor-signs-attack-on-lgbt-college-students-into-law/#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2016 16:39:17 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69157
Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback

Today, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed SB 175 into law – a measure that puts LGBT and other minority college students at even greater risk of discrimination by university-funded student groups. The first explicitly anti-LGBT bill signed into law this year, the legislation forces public universities to fund student organizations that discriminate by restricting their membership and denying LGBT students from participating under the guise of “religious beliefs.

“Gov. Brownback’s shameful decision to sign this measure into law puts tens of thousands of college students who attend school in Kansas at risk,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “History has never looked kindly on leaders who promote discrimination, and Gov. Brownback has recklessly abandoned his responsibility to ensure all students are treated with dignity and respect. This is a dark day for Kansas, and we must find a path to eventually seeing that this deplorable law is ripped out and thrown away.”

The new law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies that have already been put into place by many of Kansas’ educational institutions, including the Kansas Board of Regents and the University of Kansas. These policies require that student organizations–which receive financial and other support from the school–do not discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They are incredibly important because they allow all members of the student body to participate in student groups and prevent such groups from discriminating against students with state funding. SB 175 blows a hole right through them – and allows discrimination against any of these groups if one cites a “religious belief” as a justification.

Kansas’ SB 175 is the first stand-alone anti-LGBT bill signed into law in 2016. The attack on fairness and equality are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country, including nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills in 33 states. For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/2016legislature.

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White House to recognize Affordable Care Act ‘Champions of Change’ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/21/white-house-to-recognize-affordable-care-act-champions-of-change/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/21/white-house-to-recognize-affordable-care-act-champions-of-change/#respond Mon, 21 Mar 2016 17:36:10 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69122

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday, March 25, the White House will recognize ten individuals from across the country as “White House Champions of Change for the Affordable Care Act.”

These individuals were selected by the White House for their leadership and tireless work to ensure that individuals in their community are benefiting from all aspects of the Affordable Care Act. They understand the need to make quality, affordable health care not a privilege, but a right, and have taken action around the country to work toward solutions.

This week, on the six-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, we celebrate the 20 million more Americans who now, thanks to the law, have the security of health insurance. Last summer we learned that, for the first time ever, America’s uninsured rate has fallen below 10 percent. The ability to buy affordable plans on a competitive marketplace is giving Americans the freedom to move, start businesses and dream big, which is especially important as more consumers become entrepreneurs. And thanks in part to the law’s focus on reducing costs and inefficiencies, health care prices have risen at the slowest rate in 50 years since the law passed, which will benefit all of us for years to come.

The program will feature remarks by Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ on Friday, February 26, at 10:30 AM ET. Follow the conversation at #WHChamps.

Ana Maria Garza Cortez—San Antonio, Texas

Ana Maria Garza Cortez serves as Vice President of Development and Marketing for CentroMed, a Federally Qualified Health Center in San Antonio, Texas. She is responsible for marketing, public relations as well as outreach and enrollment. During the past seventeen years at CentroMed, Ms. Cortez has been an advocate for children and families accessing healthcare and promoting the awareness of Medicaid, CHIP and most recently enrollment in the Marketplace, a program of the Affordable Care Act. She was responsible for planning, implementing and promoting large scale enrollment events with funding provided by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and CHRISTUS Foundation.  She serves as a leader with the Enroll San Antonio Coalition, which is comprised of over 50 partnering agencies working to ensure all families have access to healthcare.

Shelbi Flynn—New Orleans, Louisiana

Shelbi Flynn is a fellow at the New Orleans Health Department (NOHD) and a Public Health Associate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the 2015-2016 open enrollment season, Shelbi led NOHD’s outreach and enrollment efforts as a part of the city’s participation in the White House Healthy Communities Challenge.  Shelbi collaborated with dedicated community partners to coordinate the Mayor’s Barber Shop & Beauty Salon Healthcare Enrollment Challenge and New Orleans’ first Citywide Day of Enrollment, which featured enrollment events across the city. Building on the successes and partnerships formed in previous years, Shelbi’s work with NOHD contributed to the 40,737 new Marketplace plan selections made by New Orleans metro area residents. Previously, Shelbi supported NOHD’s Fit NOLA initiative, a collective impact project working across six sectors to promote physical activity and improved nutrition.  Shelbi is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she received a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies.

Rudy Gonzales—Denver, Colorado

Rudy Gonzales is the Executive Director of Servicios de La Raza (Servicios) in Denver, Colorado. Servicios is the largest one-stop culturally responsive, linguistically specific, community based human service provider in the State of Colorado. As a recent Medical Assistance site, and for the past six years, Servicios is one of the state’s highest performers in navigation and enrollment services for CHPS + and Medicaid. With a significant grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, Rudy led “Adelante con Salud,” a statewide media and education campaign to increase the knowledge and awareness of the ACA among Colorado Latinos.  Rudy also led the organizing efforts to establish the Coalition for Culturally Appropriate and Responsive Enrollment Services (CCARES), Colorado’s most successful ACA navigation and enrollment service provider primarily serving the monolingual and bilingual Latino community of Colorado.

Brian Hujdich—Washington, District of Columbia

Brian Hujdich serves as the Executive Director of HealthHIV and two coalitions managed by HealthHIV, the National Coalition for LGBT Health and Pozitively Healthy consumer coalition, in Washington, DC. Brian led the development of two ACA enrollment and engagement guides for two key populations: individuals living with HIV/AIDS and LGBT individuals. The guides address how to navigate the enrollment process, how to overcome barriers in finding HIV or LGBT health related culturally competent care, and how to fully engage in taking advantage of your health insurance. Brian leads social media efforts on multiple platforms to raise awareness of enrollment, addressing various aspects of the ACA from deadlines to process. He also led HealthHIV’s work as one of the in-person assister groups for the Washington, D.C. exchange, focused on LGBT outreach and health literacy.

Andrea Irvin—Atlanta, Georgia

Andrea Irvin serves as the Manager of Community Service and Bonner Campus Programs in the Bonner Office of Community Service and Student Development at Spelman College. In her role, Andrea is responsible for cultivating community partnerships with non-profit and community organizations. Upon meeting with the Georgia team from Enroll America, Andrea developed a program for Spelman students to volunteer with healthcare enrollment, resulting in helping more Americans gain access to healthcare coverage, and increasing the understanding that students’ have about their own options for coverage. Under Andrea’s leadership, Spelman College placed 2nd in the White House Healthy Communities Challenge HBCU Phone-A-Thon Call to Action, designed to raise awareness of the Affordable Care Act, coverage options and enrollment deadlines in states with large percentages of uninsured citizens. Andrea has over eight years of experience in working with community development and advocacy initiatives and previously served as the Director of the PACE initiative at United Way of Greater Atlanta, an Investing in Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education that focused on increasing student achievement outcomes from birth to third grade.

Elhadji Ndiaye—Philadelphia, Pennslvania

Elhadji Ndiaye serves as the Neighborhood Program Coordinator for the Philadelphia Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD). OHCD is the City of Philadelphia’s housing policy agency, and is responsible for the funding and support of housing and community development programs that benefit low- and moderate-income residents and revitalize neighborhoods. In 2015, Elhadji helped lead a partnership with BenePhilly to enroll Philadelphians in the Health Insurance Marketplace under the ACA.  Under Mr. Ndiaye’s leadership hundreds of community members learned about ACA and many signed up for a healthcare plan that met their financial needs.

Olivia Riutta—Missoula, Montana

Olivia Riutta is the Outreach and Engagement Manager at the Montana Primary Care Association (MPCA) in Missoula, Montana. The MPCA and their 17 member Community Health Centers serve more than 100,000 patients with comprehensive, accessible, primary care services. Ms. Riutta leads the Cover Montana project, including a statewide outreach and enrollment stakeholder coalition and a state-based consumer facing website and outreach and enrollment campaign. Under her leadership, Cover Montana and its partners have been integral in implementing the ACA, including Montana’s newly expanded Medicaid program. Previously, her work included organizing and policy advocacy on issues that impact low-income women and families.

Aakash Shah—Cliffside Park, New Jersey

Aakash Shah, MD, MBA, is the Founder and Executive Director of Be Jersey Strong. Be Jersey Strong trains and mobilizes student community health workers to address health-related social needs. During the third open enrollment period, Be Jersey Strong recruited over 500 student volunteers, two-thirds of whom spoke a second language with over 50 languages represented in total, to provide outreach and enrollment assistance in communities throughout New Jersey. Aakash is also an emergency room doctor-in-training. He obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School, MBA and MSc from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and BA and BS from Ursinus College.

Judith Solomon—Washington, District of Columbia

Judith Solomon is a Vice President for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and policy institute based in Washington, DC, which pursues federal and state policies designed both to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways.  As VP for health policy, she helped lead the Center’s work on implementation of the ACA’s coverage provisions. A key part of this work is “Beyond the Basics,” which provides training and ongoing support to thousands of enrollment assisters and volunteer tax preparers across the country who in turn provide feedback on issues and barriers that arise in their work with consumers. Judith has worked closely with HHS, Treasury, and the IRS to come up with solutions to those problems.  Before joining the Center in 2005, Judith ran a children’s health organization and served as a legal services attorney in Connecticut.

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HRC statement on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/16/hrc-statement-on-president-obamas-nomination-of-merrick-garland-to-the-scotus/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/16/hrc-statement-on-president-obamas-nomination-of-merrick-garland-to-the-scotus/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 02:44:22 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=69009
Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Americans deserve a full Supreme Court bench, and President Obama’s nominee deserves a hearing. There is no doubt that Merrick Garland is a highly qualified candidate, and the Senate has a Constitutional responsibility to give him swift and fair consideration,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The Supreme Court has a sacred responsibility to uphold the rights of all citizens, and we must hold accountable any politicians who tamper with our nation’s highest court for their own gain.”

Judge Garland has served on the federal bench and in public service for almost 25 years. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1997, and currently serves as the Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  After graduating from Harvard University and Harvard Law School, Judge Garland served as a judicial clerk for Judge Henry Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. HRC will continue examining the record of Judge Garland on issues affecting the LGBT community. Moreover, we look forward to the Senate’s thorough examination of his judicial philosophy and record.

The decisions made by the Supreme Court establish important legal precedents that impact the daily lives of all Americans, including those who are LGBT. This year alone, the Court is expected to rule on many critical issues–including affirmative action, immigration, religious refusals and abortion rights–and the American people deserve a fully-functioning Court with nine justices seated and considering cases before it.

Over the past 25 years, the LGBT community in particular has benefited from groundbreaking decisions from the court, including Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, U.S. v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges–the latter of which ushered in nationwide marriage equality last June. Notably, each ruling was decided by a razor-thin margin of just one vote. While each has bettered the lives of millions of Americans, during that same time there have been tremendously disappointing rulings, such as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Shelby County v. Holder, that have been both far-reaching and harmful to a great many more people across our country.

President Obama’s incredible legacy of achievement on LGBT equality remains unmatched in our country’s history. Not only has he appointed two pro-equality Associate Justices to the Supreme Court–Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan–but he’s also named a record 10 openly LGBT judges to the federal bench. HRC fully hopes that in Judge Garland, we will find another well-qualified justice who will uphold the Constitution and rule fairly on issues important to the LGBT community.

Last month HRC joined a broad coalition of 82 organizations in condemning Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their unprecedented obstruction of the U.S. Supreme Court nomination process. On the day of Justice Scalia’s death, Republican leadership announced that they would shirk their responsibility by not even holding a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. The Republican National Committee has also launched a special task force dedicated to blocking any efforts to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.

On Monday, March 21, HRC will be participating in the #DoYourJob National Day of Action along with allied advocacy organizations, to put public pressure on and demand action from key Senate Republicans who have refused to uphold Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

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Kentucky Senate approves ‘license to discriminate’ bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/15/kentucky-senate-approves-license-to-discriminate-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/15/kentucky-senate-approves-license-to-discriminate-bill/#respond Tue, 15 Mar 2016 22:07:45 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68924

Today, Kentucky’s Republican-controlled Senate approved a “license to discriminate” bill that would give businesses in the state a license to discriminate against patrons based on their sexuality and/or gender identity.

A report in The Advocate states the bill’s author, Republican Sen. Albert Robinson, contends the proposal is not discriminatory but rather necessary to protect people of faith from LGBT people who “are trying to force their beliefs down the throats” of those who act upon their religious convictions.

If passed, the report continues, the legislation would amend the state’s 2013 Religious Freedom Restoration Act to assure that it applies to providers of goods and services to the public, putting their work under the “protected activities” clause of the law. Anyone acting on a “sincerely held religious belief” would be protected from “being fined, imprisoned, held in contempt, or otherwise punished” for acting in accordance with those beliefs.

The bill now moves on to the House.

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White House appoints first transgender person as lead point of contact for LGBT groups on all issues http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/14/white-house-appoints-first-transgender-person-as-lead-point-of-contact-for-lgbt-groups-on-all-issues/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/14/white-house-appoints-first-transgender-person-as-lead-point-of-contact-for-lgbt-groups-on-all-issues/#respond Mon, 14 Mar 2016 19:33:45 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68891
Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan has been appointed by President Obama as the White House’s primary LGBT liaison. BuzzFeed News broke the story first as Freedman-Gurspan becomes the first transgender person in that role.

In 2015, Freedman-Gurspan was hired by President Obama as an Outreach and Recruitment Director in the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House. She became the first openly transgender person in history to be a member of staff at the White House.

In her new position as the Outreach & Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel and Associate Director for Public Engagement Freedman-Gurspan becomes the White House’s lead point of contact for LGBT groups on all issues.

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Senate panel confirms Eric Fanning as secretary of the Army http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/10/senate-panel-confirms-eric-fanning-as-secretary-of-the-army/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/10/senate-panel-confirms-eric-fanning-as-secretary-of-the-army/#respond Thu, 10 Mar 2016 18:08:44 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68819
Eric Fanning

Eric Fanning

WASHINGTON — The Senate Armed Services Committee has confirmed the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service, voting Thursday to approve the nomination of Eric Fanning to be Army secretary. President Obama’s historic nomination of Fanning to serve as secretary of the Army now heads to the full Senate for a final vote.

“We are thrilled to see Eric Fanning confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee,” said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “History continues to be written and equality marches forward with the nomination of an openly gay man to serve in this significantly important role. Fanning’s expertise and knowledge within the defense community more than qualifies him to serve as Secretary of the Army. We urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm his appointment.”

Fanning has served at senior levels in the Navy, the Air Force, and the Army.

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After 39-hour filibuster Missouri’s anti-LGBTQ bill moves to House http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/09/after-39-hour-filibuster-missouris-anti-lgbtq-bill-moves-to-house/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/09/after-39-hour-filibuster-missouris-anti-lgbtq-bill-moves-to-house/#respond Thu, 10 Mar 2016 00:06:07 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68815

Eight senators in Missouri filibustered for a historic 39 hours to prevent a discriminatory religious exemption bill from moving forward in the legislature. SJ39 is a bill that would ask the voters of Missouri to amend their constitution to allow religious organizations and individuals to use their faith to legally justify refusing services and benefits to LGBTQ people. However, the Senate forced a vote, and the bill passed in a 23-9 vote. It now heads to the House.

“The eight senators who filibustered for hours on end are champions of fairness and freedom,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation. “They have inspired people and businesses all across the country to stand up against the tidal wave of attacks against LGBTQ people and our families. Freedom of religion is important to all of us, and it is already strongly protected. We call on House Speaker Todd Richardson to do the right thing and stop this dangerous bill from moving forward any further.”

In addition to enshrining discrimination into law, these types of bills have caused serious economic impact in other states. Indiana lost over $60 million in business revenue after passing a discriminatory religious exemption bill. Many companies, big and small, have already spoken out against SJR 39 including two of Missouri’s largest employers, Dow Chemical and Monsanto. Equality Federation called upon the Missouri’s lawmakers to consider the range of negative impacts this legislation could have on the state.

Steph Perkins, executive director of Federation member PROMO Missouri said, “We are beyond disappointed that the Senate has voted to pass SJR 39. We agree that religion is a fundamental right, which is why it is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and our existing Human Rights Act. But those same religious beliefs cannot and should not be used as a reason to deny someone the same services that are offered to the rest of the public. And that is exactly what SJR 39 would do.”

Read the bill here: http://www.senate.mo.gov/16info/pdf-bill/intro/SJR39.pdf

Follow the progress of this bill and learn more about Equality Federation and Promo at http://eqfed.org/mo

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New report shows burden of Major Depressive Disorder; access to care a significant problem http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/09/new-report-shows-burden-of-major-depressive-disorder-access-to-care-a-significant-problem/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/09/new-report-shows-burden-of-major-depressive-disorder-access-to-care-a-significant-problem/#respond Wed, 09 Mar 2016 23:07:45 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68805

MHA ReportALEXANDRIA,Va.A new analysis by Avalere and Mental Health America (MHA) finds that significant barriers to quality care for individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) exist, that insurance coverage does not necessarily equal access to care, and that patients often feel left out of their own treatment. This infographic summarizes the results found in the white paper.

About 16 million American adults have MDD.  MDD can often cause cognitive difficulties (lack of concentration, ability to focus, stay on task, etc.), lack of energy, and sleep issues that affect people’s ability to manage day-to-day activities.  Avalere and MHA developed this report to describe the current state of quality of care for individuals with MDD and provide an evidence-based assessment of challenges and opportunities for quality improvement.

Nearly 44 million American adults suffer from a mental illness in a given year. Of the population with MDD, only 35 percent are treated within the first year of developing symptoms; for others it can take 4 years or more. Many people don’t seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because of discrimination, stigma, and lack of awareness of warning signs. Because of this, many mental health conditions aren’t addressed in a timely manner.

“Too many Americans are suffering, and far too many are not receiving the services they need to live healthy and productive lives,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “This report is yet another reminder that we must improve access to care and treatments, and we should put a premium on early identification and timely intervention for everyone with mental health concerns. It is time to create a system in which we can address mental illness before a crisis occurs—Before Stage 4—and promote individuals’ recovery.”

The authors of the report conducted a structured literature review and key informant interviews to identify barriers to high-quality care and proposed solutions.

Some specific barriers identified include:

  • Limited access by individuals to qualified mental health providers;
  • Lack of specialized training for primary care providers in mental health;
  • Limited reimbursement for non-physician healthcare professionals, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants;
  • Stigma associated with mental illness;
  • Lack of assessment and monitoring tools and quality measures that evaluate outcomes that matter to patients (e.g. psychosocial factors, daily functioning, residual symptoms such as cognitive dysfunction); and
  • Low levels of awareness among individuals and families of available support services and online self-management tools.

“We have known for a long time that delayed treatment is denied treatment,” continued Gionfriddo. “Furthermore, just because you have health insurance doesn’t mean you have access to care. About 4 million people with serious mental illness lack access to mental health services, despite insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act—which is costing the United States $210.5 billion dollars a year. “

Avalere and MHA also identified a number of tactics to address challenges in MDD care. Successful implementation of these tactics will require collaboration among multiple stakehold­ers across the healthcare system, and include:

  • Increase public awareness of depression through education and screening;
  • Implement alternate models of care such as telemedicine to address gaps in timely access to care;
  • Encourage adoption of new payment and delivery models such as the Collaborative Care Model that facilitate more holistic care by specialists, case managers, and peer support specialists;
  • Improve patient engagement and self-management through the effective use of shared decision making and patient education about MDD and available treatment options.                                                    

“Depression can be an isolating illness and there is much work to be done in our mental health system,” concluded Theresa Nguyen, Senior Director of Policy and Programming, MHA. “But as this research shows, there are steps we can take to improve the lives of individuals dealing with MDD. If we act on these recommendations, we can help people get the care they need—before Stage 4.”

 

 

 

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SSA grants spousal benefits to Texas widow in Lambda Legal case http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/08/ssa-grants-spousal-benefits-to-texas-widow-in-lambda-legal-case/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/08/ssa-grants-spousal-benefits-to-texas-widow-in-lambda-legal-case/#respond Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:39:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68777
Sara Barker and Kathy Murphy

Sara Barker and Kathy Murphy

Today Lambda Legal and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare announced the resolution of a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) brought on behalf of Kathy Murphy, a Texas widow denied spousal benefits after the death of her wife, and the National Committee.

“The basic tenets of the Social Security program are that if you contribute to the system throughout your working life, you and your family will receive those earned benefits in retirement, death or disability. We are pleased that the Social Security Administration now has instructions for its staff on how to right a wrong for thousands of same-sex spouses who have been denied benefits because their home states refused to recognize their marriages,” said Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO

“The Social Security Administration has finally adjusted Kathy’s monthly SSA benefit to recognize the reality that she was married to her wife Sara and is a widow entitled to the same treatment as other survivors.  We are also pleased to announce that the SSA has finally updated its instructions to its staff in accordance with the historic Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last June. SSA has also issued other guidance to staff to manage claims from the LGBT community. With this good news, including SSA’s long-awaited changes to its policies to conform to Obergefell, we are hopeful that LGBT widows, widowers and retirees, wherever they live, will be able to receive the Social Security spousal benefits to which they are entitled,” said Susan Sommer, National Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal

For more than 30 years, Texas residents Kathy Murphy, 62, and Sara Barker shared their lives together.  Three decades after they first met, Kathy and Sara legally married in Massachusetts in 2010.  Like other married couples, they hoped to grow old together and to live out their retirement years in safety, security and dignity.  Tragically, Sara lost her battle with cancer in March 2012 at age 62, leaving Kathy a widow. Because the couple lived in Texas, which refused to recognize their marriage at the time of Sara’s death, SSA also wouldn’t recognize the marriage, denying Kathy spousal survivor’s benefits earned by Sara over a lifetime of work.

“Sara and I were blessed with nearly 32 years together. We worked hard to close all the gaps before she died, and I’m very relieved that the federal government is finally doing its part. The Social Security benefits I will receive will ensure that I can take care of the home that Sara and I shared together,” Kathy said.

In addition to now providing Kathy monthly spousal benefits as it would any other surviving spouse, SSA has updated its instructions to staff on processing the claims of members of the LGBT community.  These instructions include important steps to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples from the date of their marriages, regardless of the state where the couple lived.

Read the SSA’s instructions to staff on processing claims for members of the LGBT community: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0200210000

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U.S. Supreme Court reverses Alabama Court’s refusal to recognize same-sex adoption http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/07/u-s-supreme-court-reverses-alabama-courts-refusal-to-recognize-same-sex-adoption/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/07/u-s-supreme-court-reverses-alabama-courts-refusal-to-recognize-same-sex-adoption/#respond Mon, 07 Mar 2016 20:31:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68746

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court of the United States has made a unanimous decision reversing an Alabama Supreme Court’s refusal to recognize an adoption by a lesbian non-biological mother. HRC joined a coalition of organizations on an amicus brief urging the court to hear the case.

The same-sex couple were in a relationship at the time E.L. had given birth to all of their children. The couple temporarily moved to the state of Georgia so that V.L. could formally adopt the children. The Alabama Supreme Court had argued that the state of Georgia had erred in allowing the non-biological mother to adopt the children without first terminating the parental rights of the biological mother.

“Any attempt to deny legal rights to our families is reprehensible, and this ruling establishes that bias and discrimination cannot be allowed to undermine the bond between LGBT parents and their children,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow. “The nation’s highest court today ruled in the best interests of these children, setting a firm precedent for others across our nation. These children have two parents, and should have the security that comes with legal recognition.”

“We applaud the courageous plaintiff and her legal team, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, for their victory.”

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South Dakota House fails to override governor’s veto of bill attacking transgender children http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/south-dakota-house-fails-to-override-governors-veto-of-bill-attacking-transgender-children/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/south-dakota-house-fails-to-override-governors-veto-of-bill-attacking-transgender-children/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 21:24:01 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68627

Failing to reach the required two-thirds majority needed, today the South Dakota House of Representatives voted 36 to 29 to override Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard’s veto of HB 1008 – reckless legislation attacking the dignity and rights of transgender children in public schools by attempting to prevent them from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign responded to the news and also urged the Senate to reject another legislative proposal under consideration that targets transgender children in sports programs, HB 1112.

“The failure by opponents of equality to override Gov. Daugaard’s veto of HB 1008 is certainly encouraging news,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Fairness and equality have prevailed over this unconscionable legislative assault on transgender children. However, the Senate must now also reject another outrageous proposal under consideration that would ban transgender students from participating in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity. Transgender youth need the support of their state’s leaders, not vicious and hateful attacks.”

HB 1008 would have further marginalized transgender children and compounded the stigma, harassment, and discrimination they already face. It would have also placed South Dakota school districts into the untenable position of choosing between complying with state or federal law, putting them at risk of losing up to nearly $200 million in federal funding in addition to the cost of inevitable litigation.

HRC is working closely with the ACLU of South Dakota to keep another discriminatory bill – HB 1112 – from moving forward. Already passed through the House, HB 1112 would directly override the authority of the South Dakota High School Activities Association and states, “a student’s sex is determined by the student’s chromosomes and the sex recorded on the student’s official birth certificate.” It voids the existing policy adopted by the Association, which allows transgender students to participate in athletic activities consistent with their gender identity.

Two other discriminatory proposals, HB 1209 and HB 1107, have been tabled in the state.

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Assembly passes e-cigarette bill http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/assembly-passes-e-cigarette-bill/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/03/assembly-passes-e-cigarette-bill/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 19:13:43 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68600

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly today, as part of the Legislature’s extraordinary session on health, passed legislation calling for new statewide regulations on electronic cigarettes. SB X2 5, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, protects public health by ensuring that e-cigarettes are accurately defined as tobacco products and fall under the state’s existing smoke-free laws. It also requires that all e-cigarettes and liquids for the devices be sold in child-resistant packaging.

“Big Tobacco’s assault on youth and taxpayers was dealt a major setback today when the Legislature came to the rescue of Californians,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Tobacco-free habits save lives and billions of taxpayer healthcare dollars.”

The state’s Smoke Free Act prohibits smoking at workplaces, schools, daycare centers, restaurants, bars, hospitals and on public transportation. It protects Californians from secondhand smoke and reduces the acceptability of smoking in general. E-cigarettes, however, do not fall under this existing law and are largely unregulated, despite the restriction of sales to minors. SB X2 5 closes this loophole and aligns state law with proposed federal regulations that define e-cigarettes as tobacco products. The bill is co-sponsored by a coalition of national health organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

Recent studies have shown that e-cigarettes pose potentially serious health risks to users and those who inhale the secondhand aerosols. In January, the California Department of Public Health confirmed that e-cigarettes emit at least 10 toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, lead and nickel, found on the state’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

Research also shows that e-cigarette use is climbing exponentially among young people who are drawn to the products’ enticing flavors like cotton candy, bubble gum and chocolate. E-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SB X2 5 passed the Senate last August. The Senate must approve technical amendments made to the legislation in the Assembly before it can go to the Governor’s desk.

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Advocacy groups urge Tennessee House subcommittee to ditch bill targeting the dignity and rights of transgender students http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/02/advocacy-groups-urge-tennessee-house-subcommittee-to-ditch-bill-targeting-the-dignity-and-rights-of-transgender-students/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/02/advocacy-groups-urge-tennessee-house-subcommittee-to-ditch-bill-targeting-the-dignity-and-rights-of-transgender-students/#respond Wed, 02 Mar 2016 23:44:21 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68574

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Tennessee Equality Project strongly urged the Tennessee House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee to abandon a bill targeting the dignity and rights of transgender students in public elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as public universities.  Even more restrictive than the appalling legislation vetoed by Republican Governor of South Dakota Dennis Daugaard just last night, Tennessee’s HB 2414 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday and seeks to prevent transgender students from accessing restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

Last night, in vetoing similar legislation that targeted transgender children in South Dakota, Gov. Daugaard said,

“Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity. This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on ‘every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.’  It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.  If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them.  Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.  Preserving local control is particularly important because this bill would place every school district in the difficult position of following state law while knowing it openly invites federal litigation.”

Several major national child welfare, medical, and education groups have strongly condemned this type of discriminatory legislation that would further marginalize transgender students. The proposal would also put Tennessee public schools and universities at risk of litigation and loss of critical federal funds by forcing them into an untenable position of choosing between state or federal law.

“Fair-minded voices on both sides of the aisle know that it’s wrong and reckless to play politics with the lives of transgender children,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “South Dakota’s Republican governor showed crucial leadership by blocking an outrageous bill that would have further marginalized transgender students. Now is the time for lawmakers in Tennessee, and if needed Governor Haslam, to stop this outrageous legislative assault dead in its tracks. The health and welfare of Tennessee’s transgender youth hangs in the balance.”

“It is difficult to imagine a more targeted attack against transgender and gender non-conforming students,” said Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders. “Now is the time for allies to speak out against this bill.”

HB 2414 would put Tennessee school districts at risk of losing federal funds under Title IX, forcing them to choose between state and federal law. It would also tie the hands of school administrators and teachers who would no longer have the flexibility they need to find workable solutions in coordination with transgender students and their parents. In April of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance informing public schools that Title IX protects students against discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Justice has unequivocally stated that, “Discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his [or her] gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”

School districts around the country are successfully meeting the needs of their transgender students without incident, and so, in the words of Gov. Daugaard, the similar bill in his state “does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota”.

 

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South Dakota governor vetoes bill attacking transgender children http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/01/south-dakota-governor-vetoes-bill-attacking-transgender-children/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/01/south-dakota-governor-vetoes-bill-attacking-transgender-children/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 23:25:13 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68565

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has vetoed HB 1008 — legislation attacking the rights of transgender children in public schools by attempting to force them to use restrooms and other facilities inconsistent with their gender identity.

Before making his decision, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said meeting with transgender South Dakotans “put a human face” on the impact the legislation would have had and helped him to see things “through their eyes.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) praised Daugaard’s decision saying the governor did the right thing in stopping this legislative assault on transgender kids from becoming law.  “Today, the voices of fairness and equality prevailed, and these students’ rights and dignity prevailed against overwhelming odds and vicious opponents in the state legislature,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Unfortunately, another anti-LGBT bill is still pending in the South Dakota Legislature — and we must keep up the fight to ensure today’s veto holds and this other odious bill never makes it to Governor Daugaard’s desk.”

HRC mobilized its members across South Dakota and the nation to fight back against HB 1008. HRC has also worked closely with local advocates, including the ACLU of South Dakota and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), to try to stop this outrageous bill from becoming law. HRC provided on the ground support, mobilized members and supporters for a community day of action, conducted patch through calls to the governor’s office, and urged fair-minded South Dakotans to speak out against the bill through several action alerts and a robust social media campaign. HRC’s action, along with ACLU of South Dakota and other coalition partners, helped deliver over 80,000 signatures urging the governor to do the right thing and veto HB 1008.

HRC encouraged the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) to speak out, and the ASCA pleaded with the Senate to abandon the bill. As Governor Daugaard contemplated his decision, HRC also worked with seven national child welfare, medical, and education groups — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association — to release an open letter to all of the nation’s governors expressing their grave concerns and objections to this type of legislation.

 

 

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New research findings reveal health benefits of targeted case management for people living with HIV http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/01/new-research-findings-reveal-health-benefits-of-targeted-case-management-for-people-living-with-hiv/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/03/01/new-research-findings-reveal-health-benefits-of-targeted-case-management-for-people-living-with-hiv/#respond Tue, 01 Mar 2016 22:31:31 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68552

AmidaNew York, NY – Providing comprehensive, holistic case management to people dealing with multiple comorbid conditions, including HIV, can yield tangible health improvements and long-term cost savings, according to a new study released by Amida Care, a New York City nonprofit health plan, and ACRIA, an HIV/AIDS research organization. The report, “The Impact of Comprehensive Case Management on HIV Client Outcomes,” provides unique insight into the effectiveness of Comprehensive Medicaid Case Management, also known as Targeted Case Management (TCM), which provides wraparound supportive services to help people with complex needs navigate the health care system and improve their health outcomes.

“Targeted Case Management provides the critical structure that people with chronic conditions need to improve their well-being and long-term health by working with a dedicated care coordination team,” said Doug Wirth, President and CEO of Amida Care. “TCM addresses the social determinants of health such as unstable housing and food insecurity that prevent people from staying in care and adhering to their treatment. The study shows a clear connection between care coordination and significant immune system improvements. This is powerful evidence that treatment adherence and staying in care produce improved health outcomes, which in turn can lead to lower hospitalization rates and health care cost savings.”

In past findings from 2008 to 2014, Amida Care observed a dramatic 74% reduction in hospitalizations and a 64% decline in emergency room visits due to improvements in immune system function associated with its TCM model of care, as well as over $88 million in in-patient cost savings to New York State. Amida Care’s Medicaid special needs health plan (SNP), the largest in New York, is specifically designed to provide coordinated care to people living with chronic conditions, including HIV/AIDS and behavioral health disorders. The plan is also available to Medicaid members who are homeless, regardless of HIV status.

Over a 21-month period, the current study examined the effectiveness of TCM services for individuals with HIV in New York State by analyzing changes in clinical, cost, and pharmacy and hospital utilization data among more than 2,000 Amida Care members with HIV. The study showed that through TCM, clients significantly increased their CD4 counts—a key indicator of immune system health—to be on par with Amida Care’s non-TCM clients, who do not require the level of care that TCM provides and who already had substantially higher CD4 levels at the beginning of the study.

“The rebound we saw in the CD4 count among those who received Targeted Case Management is remarkable. The findings clearly demonstrate that TCM is able to achieve its goals of improving sustained care engagement and treatment adherence,” said Dr. Stephen Karpiak, Senior Director for Research and Evaluation at ACRIA. “There is a direct connection between these results and the supportive services that TCM provides. The Targeted Case Management teams are highly skilled and become a vital connection for those with multiple social and health challenges. This study provides important evidence illustrating the value of care coordination to improve health outcomes. If we don’t provide these coordinated supports, we won’t be able to end the AIDS epidemic.”

The study demonstrates the clear benefits of TCM for those who previously lacked the support systems that enabled them to adhere to a treatment regimen. TCM also benefits the community at large, because people with low viral loads are less likely to transmit HIV to others, which not only saves lives but helps to prevent the high long-term cost associated with new cases of HIV. As New York State implements Governor Andrew Cuomo’s groundbreaking Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic in the state by the year 2020, programs like TCM that prevent HIV transmission and improve the health of those who are already HIV-positive are of critical importance.

The full study can be accessed here.

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HRC renews call on South Dakota governor to veto legislation attacking trans children http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/29/hrc-renews-call-on-south-dakota-governor-to-veto-legislation-attacking-trans-children/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/29/hrc-renews-call-on-south-dakota-governor-to-veto-legislation-attacking-trans-children/#respond Mon, 29 Feb 2016 22:21:37 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68549
Dennis Daugaard

Dennis Daugaard

With a little more than 24 hours to go until a proposal attacking transgender youth automatically becomes law in South Dakota, the Human Rights Campaign renewed its call on South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard to listen to the broad chorus of organizations urging him to veto the legislation.

Gov. Daugaard has until 11:59 PM CT tomorrow to either veto or sign the legislation that would prevent transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. If he does not act before then to protect the state’s transgender children from this legislative assault against their rights, dignity, and safety, South Dakota will become the first state in the nation to pass a bill specifically targeting transgender youth in school.

A failure to veto the measure would also place South Dakota school districts into the untenable position of choosing between complying with state or federal law, putting them at risk of losing up to nearly $200 million in federal funding for their schools in addition to the cost of inevitable litigation.

“This is not a complicated issue. Governor Daugaard has an opportunity to either stand up for transgender children in his state, or he can ignore the struggles they face on a daily basis and add to the hardship many of them already endure,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “There’s a reason we have heard overwhelming opposition to this legislation from major child welfare education organizations, businesses and corporations in the state, as well as the children and families who would be severely harmed by this bill. When more than fifty percent of transgender youth attempt to take their own lives at least once before turning 21, it’s the duty of lawmakers to protect the most vulnerable in their state. The eyes of the nation are on South Dakota, and we strongly urge Governor Daugaard to seize this opportunity to show true leadership by blocking this disgraceful bill and standing up for all of South Dakota’s children.”

HRC, the ACLU of South Dakota, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), and other advocacy organizations have worked furiously over the last several weeks to try to stop this outrageous bill from becoming law. HRC and its coalition partners have mobilized members across South Dakota and the nation to speak out, organized a community day of action, coordinated hundreds of calls to the governor’s office, action alerts, and a robust social media campaign. HRC worked with the ACLU of South Dakota and other coalition partners to deliver over 80,000 signatures last week urging the governor to veto HB 1008.

South Dakota highlights the stakes for LGBT people – and transgender people in particular – this legislative session. In a joint op-ed last week, HRC President Chad Griffin and NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling addressed the onslaught of bills specifically targeting transgender people this year, writing, “These pieces of legislation are especially egregious because they aren’t even addressing an actual problem. Treating transgender students equally doesn’t come at the cost of anyone’s safety or privacy. Transgender students have already been using the restrooms that match their gender in hundreds of school districts all over the country without causing a single incident of violence or harassment.”

Advocates are not alone in opposing HB 1008: the business community, children’s advocates, state and local editorial pages, and more than 80,000 people nationwide have called on Gov. Daugaard to veto the legislation.

Major corporations with operations in South Dakota, including Citibank, Wells Fargo, Sanford Health, and First Premier Bank have expressed significant concerns with HB 1008.  The Argus Leader Editorial Board opposes the legislation, and on Friday, the New York Times Editorial Board called on Gov. Daugaard to veto the bill, saying: “If Mr. Daugaard values inclusiveness and respect, siding with students who stand to be hurt by this law should be an easy decision.”

Gov. Daugaard has also personally heard from students who would be impacted by the legislation: in Washington Post this weekend, one South Dakota transgender student wrote about the profoundly negative impact that bill would have on him and pleaded with the governor, saying, “Transgender students like me are just looking for a chance to access the same things that everyone else does — an education, a job, a safe place to pee. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, please stand up for me and all of the people of South Dakota you represent. The country is watching and history will show that you did the right thing if you veto this bad bill.”

Additionally, seven national child welfare, medical, and education groups – including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American School Counselor Association, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Social Workers, and the National Education Association – sent an open letter to all of the nation’s governors expressing their grave concerns and objections to this type of legislation.

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Chris Christie endorses Donald Trump http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/26/chris-christie-endorses-donald-trump/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/26/chris-christie-endorses-donald-trump/#respond Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:53:05 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68503

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today endorsed his former rival, Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Advocate reported that Christie pointed to his family’s long friendship with Trump’s family, saying that he finalized his endorsement the day before, concluding that Trump was the best candidate to ensure that “Hillary Clinton doesn’t get within 100 feet of the White House.”

“This was an endorsement that really meant a lot,” Trump said. “Chris is an outstanding man, with an outstanding family. … I think this is the one endorsement I felt very strongly about, that I really wanted to get.”

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Coalition of Latino organizations releases LGBTQ-inclusive policy recommendations to presidential candidates and federal policymakers http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/26/coalition-of-latino-organizations-releases-lgbtq-inclusive-policy-recommendations-to-presidential-candidates-and-federal-policymakers/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/26/coalition-of-latino-organizations-releases-lgbtq-inclusive-policy-recommendations-to-presidential-candidates-and-federal-policymakers/#respond Fri, 26 Feb 2016 16:43:40 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68490
NHLAWASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, released its quadrennial Hispanic Public Policy Agenda yesterday, a comprehensive outline of the policy concerns and priorities of the nation’s Latino community.
The coalition urged the candidates for president, along with Congress and the current administration, to take careful note of the policy recommendations which affect the 58 million Latinos in the United States. Along with long-held positions on issues such as economic empowerment and immigration, the 2016 policy agenda includes policy recommendations specifically aimed at improving the well-being of LGBTQ Latinos.
The policy agenda covers the unique health challenges facing LGBTQ Latinos, as well as the need to protect LGBTQ Latinos from employment discrimination and abuse in immigration detention. In the criminal justice context, the coalition calls for better data collection that includes sexual orientation and for ending the use of solitary confinement for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. This is the most explicitly LGBT-inclusive policy agenda produced by the NHLA to date.
“Our coalition’s intention has always been to advance the well-being and dignity of all Latinos, and this includes our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, with whom we proudly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in unity to overcome the particular challenges people face because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Hector Sanchez, NHLA Chair and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
“Since joining NHLA four years ago, I have been honored to be among a growing cadre of Latina leaders working to ensure that we fully embrace and include Latinas in a policy agenda that recognizes the challenges of gender-based discrimination and violence, and the importance of health care for women and LGBTQ Latino/as.  This year’s agenda is the most gender-inclusive in the history of NHLA! The policy priorities outlined demonstrate a commitment to improving Latina reproductive health and rights, critical measures to expand health care access for LGBTQ Latino/as, to ensure that young parents have the resources needed to thrive, and to address HIV and AIDS within our communities, regardless of immigration status,” Jessica González-Rojas, Co-Chair of the NHLA Health Committee and Executive Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
“Despite our nation’s extraordinary progress on LGBTQ equality in recent years, significant challenges still remain, and, too often, Latina and Latino members of the LGBTQ community face greater and more serious discrimination as they are targeted both because they are LGBTQ and because they are Latino or immigrant or poor,” said Thomas A. Saenz, NHLA Vice Chair and President and General Counsel of MALDEF.  “We see this in employment discrimination, in hate crimes, in educational discrimination, and in the deplorable treatment of LGBTQ Latino and Latina immigrants in detention.”
The NHLA debuted the 2016 Hispanic Public Policy Agenda yesterday at a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.  The coalition will reach out to the major parties’ platform committees and hold events at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to promote its priorities. The organization’s board has already met with several presidential candidates and will continue its efforts to ensure that candidates and officials understand the priorities of the Latino community.
The LGBT-related recommendations in NHLA’s policy agenda include:
  • Expanding the president’s proposed Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which is currently on hold while under Supreme Court review, to halt deportations of LGBTQ immigrants who meet most of the criteria of the program but don’t have children and would therefore be ineligible for relief.
  • Increasing protections from abuse for LGBTQ immigrants in detention and the use of alternatives to detention, as they are the safest options for LGBTQ immigrants.
  • In cases where transgender individuals must be detained, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s policy should be to place the individual in housing that is consistent with the individual’s gender identity, not the anatomy or sex assigned at birth.
  • Improving data collection in the criminal justice system, including improved data collection by sexual orientation.
  • Prohibiting the use of solitary confinement for transgender and gender non-conforming people.
  • Enhancing protections against employment discrimination on multiple bases, such as national origin and LGBTQ identity.
  • Enacting the Health Equity and Accountability Act to eliminate health disparities for communities of color and subpopulations that face widened disparities due to gender identity, sexual orientation, and other factors.
  • Supporting policies that provide LGBTQ Latinos health insurance coverage and access to gender-affirming care that is culturally competent.
  • Opposing discriminatory healthcare policies that impact the Latino LGBTQ community.
  • Increasing funding for data collection efforts and continuing to collect adequate data to help close the disparities gap in LGBTQ populations, including communities of LGBTQ persons of color, LGBTQ immigrants, and other LGBTQ populations.
  • Removing arbitrary transgender-specific exclusions from all health plans, including state Medicaid programs.
  • Ensuring the enforcement and implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the non-discrimination provision that bans sex discrimination in health care programs and which would also provide protection on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Encouraging health care providers to increase their knowledge of personal bias and increase their understanding of multiple issues that victims of violence, including homophobia and racism, in order to provide accessible and tailored care.
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Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell to be honored at the nation’s biggest LGBT military event of the year http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/25/edie-windsor-and-jim-obergefell-to-be-honored-at-the-nations-biggest-lgbt-military-event-of-the-year/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/25/edie-windsor-and-jim-obergefell-to-be-honored-at-the-nations-biggest-lgbt-military-event-of-the-year/#respond Thu, 25 Feb 2016 21:46:41 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68475

AMPA 2WASHINGTON — Today, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) announced that Edie Windsor, the lead plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, will be honored at the 3rd Annual AMPA National Gala, presented by USAA — the nation’s biggest LGBT military event of the year. Both LGBT equality advocates will be honored for their role in securing critically important benefits for the same-sex spouses of LGBT service members and veterans from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) through their landmark cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Edie Windsor, Jim Obergefell, and the other plaintiffs who stood up to challenge discriminatory marriage laws have changed the lives of LGBT military families forever,” said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. “Because of their bravery and willingness to fight injustice and discrimination, the same-sex spouses of LGBT service members and veterans finally have access to the crucial help they need and deserve from the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. We are proud to honor both Edie and Jim at the 3rd Annual AMPA National Gala with the AMPA National Equality Award.”

A lifelong advocate for LGBT equality, Edie Windsor was the lead plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2013. The court’s historic decision in Windsor overturned Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prevented the federal government from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples. Thanks to Windsor’s victory, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) was finally able to recognize the same-sex spouses of LGBT service members and extend to these military families the critically important benefits that help with the challenges of military life, like healthcare, housing benefits, access to on base support programs, and so many more important resources and programs.

However, while the DoD finally recognized the legal marriages of same-sex couples, far too many barriers still existed for LGBT military and veteran couples. Many couples stationed in non-marriage equality states had to travel long distances to a state that would allow them to marry, only to return back home to a state that denied them recognition at the state level, leading to complicated and confusing challenges. To further compound the problem, while the rest of the federal government began recognizing all legal marriages, the VA would not fully recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples for the purposes of veterans benefits because of its governing statute — which required them to look to the state of residency rather than the place of marriage when determining the validity of a marriage. AMPA eventually filed its own lawsuit against the VA challenging that policy and the denial of equal benefits to veterans with same-sex spouses in non-marriage equality states.

That discrimination finally ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges affirming a constitutional right to marriage equality for same-sex couples throughout the United States. Joined by dozens of other plaintiffs in that case, Jim Obergefell’s name is now etched in history as the named plaintiff. Thanks to the determination of Obergefell and the other plaintiffs to challenge discriminatory state laws, the court’s historic decision led to the VA fully recognizing the same-sex marriages of veterans, finally granting them access to the full range of benefits they earned serving our nation.

At the event, AMPA will also honor Obergefell v. Hodges plaintiffs Thom Kostura & Ijpe DeKoe, AMPA members who were one of the dozens of plaintiffs in the case. Thom and Ijpe went from a pre-deployment marriage to accidental activists for nationwide marriage equality. Their personal story of the impact of marriage inequality on LGBT military families helped to shape the court’s historic decision leading to nationwide marriage equality.

The 3rd Annual AMPA National Gala, presented by USAA, will be held on Saturday, May 7th, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill. Attended by hundreds of LGBT service members, veterans, military spouses, and allies from across the country and around the world, the event celebrates and honors our nation’s modern military families for their service and sacrifice. Tickets and more information are available at www.MilitaryPartners.org/Gala/

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President Obama on appointing judges to the Supreme Court http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/24/president-obama-on-appointing-judges-to-the-supreme-court/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/24/president-obama-on-appointing-judges-to-the-supreme-court/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2016 18:33:15 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68439

Today, the White House released a post from President Obama on appointing judges to the Supreme Court.  The post penned by the President on the SCOTUSblog follows:

A Responsibility I Take Seriously
The Constitution vests in the President the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court. It’s a duty that I take seriously, and one that I will fulfill in the weeks ahead.

It’s also one of the most important decisions that a President will make. Rulings handed down by the Supreme Court directly affect our economy, our security, our rights, and our daily lives.

Needless to say, this isn’t something I take lightly. It’s a decision to which I devote considerable time, deep reflection, careful deliberation, and serious consultation with legal experts, members of both political parties, and people across the political spectrum. And with thanks to SCOTUSblog for allowing me to guest post today, I thought I’d share some spoiler-free insights into what I think about before appointing the person who will be our next Supreme Court Justice.

First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified. He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.

Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law. I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.

But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment. That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly-changing times. That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.

A sterling record. A deep respect for the judiciary’s role. An understanding of the way the world really works. That’s what I’m considering as I fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court. And as Senators prepare to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to consider the person I appoint, I hope they’ll move quickly to debate and then confirm this nominee so that the Court can continue to serve the American people at full strength.


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Speaker Atkins announces the passing of longtime San Diego LGBT leader Bill Beck http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/23/speaker-atkins-announces-the-passing-of-longtime-san-diego-lgbt-leader-bill-beck/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/23/speaker-atkins-announces-the-passing-of-longtime-san-diego-lgbt-leader-bill-beck/#respond Tue, 23 Feb 2016 20:48:22 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68412

SAN DIEGO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins today announced the passing of Dr. Bill Beck, a San Diego community leader who fought passionately for equality and civil rights, raised millions of dollars for AIDS and other worthy causes, and opened the door for many San Diego LGBT elected officials.

“San Diego has lost a true pioneer in LGBT rights in San Diego, as well as a force of nature in politics, in business, and philanthropy,” said Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego). “More than 20 years ago, Bill Beck had a vision for the LGBT community in San Diego to have a voice in the halls of power. Thanks to Bill, LGBT San Diegans have been speaking out for our community in the Assembly and state Senate, the Board of Supervisors, the City Council, the school board, the District Attorney’s office, and the court. Bill’s loss leaves a huge void—but an amazing legacy.”

Over the course of several decades, Dr. Beck raised more than $10 million for AIDS charities, local business associations, philanthropic foundations, and LGBT candidates. He has served on numerous boards, including the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the Gay Families of American Project, the AIDS Assistance Fund, and the Greater San Diego Business Association. He was a co-chair of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and a founder and board president of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation.

“Bill Beck dedicated his intellect and energy to advancing equal rights for LGBT San Diegans through political action,” added former Senator Christine Kehoe. “By working to elect a generation of openly LGBT office holders in local, state, and federal offices, Bill was part of a wave of progressive change in San Diego and across the country. I am forever grateful for the tireless support he gave to each of my campaigns and to those of so many others.”

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said, “Bill Beck’s legacy of leadership is profound. His philanthropic work helped raise millions in San Diego’s fight against HIV/AIDS and other charitable causes. He will also be remembered as a key figure who made it possible for LGBT candidates to make history and secure a seat at the table. While Bill preferred to work behind the scenes, his contributions to our community have always been front and center.”

San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts added, “Bill Beck was a transcendent presence in San Diego’s LGBT, civic, and business community. An early, strong, and steady voice for the gay community, he cared deeply about San Diego and was a trusted friend and counselor for decades. This is a sad day for all of us.”

Dr. Beck received many awards and accolades, including being honored by the state Legislature in 2010 during LGBT month and winning the San Diego Democratic Club’s President’s Award, the LGBT Center’s Jess Jessop “Founder’s Award,” and Nicky Awards in 1998 and 1999. He is survived by his husband, David Huskey.

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Leaders of House LGBT Caucus create Equality PAC, announce first endorsements http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/23/leaders-of-house-lgbt-caucus-create-equality-pac-announce-first-endorsements/ http://lgbtweekly.com/2016/02/23/leaders-of-house-lgbt-caucus-create-equality-pac-announce-first-endorsements/#comments Tue, 23 Feb 2016 18:25:19 +0000 http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=68401
Jared Polis and Mark Takano

Jared Polis and Mark Takano

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, announced today the formation of Equality PAC.  Equality PAC will work to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people elected to federal office and support straight, cis-gender allies who champion LGBT equality.

Congressman Polis and Congressman Takano will serve as the Co-Chairs of Equality PAC. Equality PAC will also be led a Board of Directors, comprised of the following Members of Congress:  David Cicilline (D-RI), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Joseph Kennedy, III (D-MA), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Grace Meng (D-NY), and Gwen Moore (D-WI).  Every Member of the Board of Directors is also a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

The Equality PAC Board of Directors also announced its first endorsement of the 2016 cycle:  Minnesota congressional candidate Angie Craig.  Ms. Craig is running to represent Minnesota’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  An executive of a Fortune 500 company, Ms. Craig lives in Eagan, Minnesota with her wife, Cheryl Greene, and their four sons.

The Equality PAC Board of Directors further announced the endorsements of two incumbent Members of Congress:  Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY).  Both Congresswoman Sinema and Congressman Maloney are Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

“I am thrilled to help launch the Equality PAC, which will help grow LGBT equality members, candidates and allies by providing our candidates with the resources they need to win,” said Equality PAC Co-Chair Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).  “I am also enthusiastically supporting Angie Craig for Congress.  Angie’s unique experience and integrity ensures in her you will get a true public servant that knows what it takes and will fight for the chance for all American to succeed.  It’s time we build an inclusive America and restore the American Dream for every one, I look forward to working along side Angie to do just that.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to be helping launch the Equality PAC,” said Equality PAC Co-Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA).  “By electing more LGBT members to the House, the Equality PAC will ensure that Congress better reflects the diversity of the American people.  I am also proud that the PAC will be supporting Angie Craig’s candidacy.  I personally endorsed Angie in 2015 because it is clear that she has the right experience, values, and vision to bring new leadership to the House.  I am certain that the support of the Equality PAC will make Angie one of many new LGBT members to be elected this November.”

“I am honored to have the support of the leaders of Congressional LGBT Caucus,” said Angie Craig.  “My wife and I have worked tirelessly on behalf of the LGBT community and our families.  While we have made tremendous progress in areas such as marriage equality, there is still much work left to do.  When I’m elected to Congress, I will continue the fight to ensure that the LGBT community continues to make progress toward a country free from discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in all forms of civic life.”

“Equality PAC is working with LGBT coalition partners to support candidates who are truly dedicated to full legal and societal equality for LGBT people,” said Equality PAC Managing Director Roddy Flynn. “The PAC Board will make sure that its endorsed candidates, be they LGBT themselves or straight, cis-gender members of the LGBT Equality Caucus, pledge to be on the vanguard of the fight for LGBT equality by championing legislation like the Equality Act.”

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